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Jan30

The Role of Emotions in Learning

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emotions
Emotion = Emovere

Emotions are a sensation or perception that we feel as the result of something. It is also an impulse to an action. Emotions generate interest and empathy, and they are contagious, personal and nontransferable. They can be fleeting, stable, or lead us to another emotion.

We are emotional beings

“We evolve, learn, mature with, and despite, our emotions.”

From the time we are born, we can differentiate between the first two emotions: pleasure and disgust (fear, hurt). Babies cry when they’re uncomfortable and laugh or sleep when they’re calm. From these first moments, we experience a wide variety of emotions between these first two. Each experience or learning will be linked to an emotion, different to each of us depending on the environment, personal relationships, internal experiences, and individual characteristics.

Jensen (2004) comments on this, “Fear and pleasure are the only emotions with specific areas in the brain. They activate precise neuron circuits that allow effective action in the face of threats, dangers or pleasure stimuli. Therefore, they speed up the learning of vital behaviors in the case of threats and the acquisition of skills in the case of pleasure.”

In the early school years, almost everything is relational, affective and emotional, which helps us to build our own image, as well as our tastes and preferences. Emotions help us to relate to others and regulate the intensity with which we live frustration or joy, for example.

Positive and negative emotions

Positive emotions are expandable and negative emotions can affect us internally and need more control. We know that behavior which produces positive emotions tends to be repeated. Conversely, a negative emotion produces an escape reaction.

Emotions can positively or negatively affect children, especially involving their motivation to keep learning. A positive emotion consolidates learning much better. If we would like something to be preserved in our memory, it should be tied to an emotion. Memorizing a piece of information is not exciting, discovering something or solving a problem is. Jensen (2004) also notes that “the activities that challenge the brain to learn, promote brain health and the preparation to face the most varied situations in life and with lower levels of stress, since the very process of facing a new situation, rather than the results of the action, is what tones brain activity.”

Negative emotions, with stress or lingering bad experiences, block learning. A sense of failure, frustration or unease generates interferences with learning because of the children’s anticipation of failure towards a subject, which is difficult to reverse.

It is very important to create quality environments in schools, where the teacher can control the supportive environment in the classroom and encourage students to express themselves appropriately (in assemblies, through art, debate, fostering empathy and helping with conflict resolution in the classroom).

At Smartick we strive to create a pleasant and motivating learning environment. We place the child at their exact level so that learning is an attainable and enjoyable challenge. We use games and positive reinforcement to guarantee that they get bits of success that make them feel good and eager to continue with their sessions.

References:
  • Jensen, Eric. 1998. Teaching with the Brain in Mind. Alexandria, Va.: Association For Supervision And Curriculum Development.
  • Beatriz E. Marcano Lárez Universidad de Oriente- Nueva Esparta. Programa de Educación Integral (Venezuela). Teoría de la Educación. Educación y Cultura en la Sociedad de la Información. Vol. 7. No2. Diciembre 2006.

Learn More:

Casey Aubin

BS Communicative Disorders & BA Spanish from the University of Rhode Island.
Master’s in International Education from the Universidad de Alcalá– Instituto Franklin.
She has worked as a teacher in three different countries and is now a Translator on the Content Creation Team at Smartick and helps to adapt content for blog posts.
As a native Rhode Islander she loves any activity on the water and when she’s not working you can find her traveling, kickboxing, or trying out a new recipe.
Casey Aubin

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