How do teachers deal with emotions in climate change education?

Are emotions, such as worry about climate change, something irrational that should be avoided in climate change education, or are emotional reactions something positive for learning? Maria Ojala has published an article about senior high-school teachers’ meta-emotion philosophies and climate change education.

Climate change is a global problem that stirs up negative emotions like worry, anger, and sometimes even hopelessness among people. Research has shown that young people are particularly inclined to feel worried about this problem and that education about climate change can increase this feeling. It is, therefore, interesting to study teachers’ views of emotions in climate change education and also how they claim they deal with emotional reactions in the classroom, that is, to explore teachers’ meta emotion philosophies.  

In the article Ojala by interviewing a group of senior high-school teachers identify diverse ways of perceiving the role of emotions in climate change education, ranging from that negative emotions in general are irrational to a complex view of emotions (both positive and negative) as sometimes being constructive and sometimes being less good for learning processes, depending upon the context. In addition, the teachers deal with and coach emotional reactions in the classroom in different ways ranging from avoidance to approaching emotions and a flexibility and adjustment based coaching. 

The article ends by arguing for the importance of including education about emotions and their role in learning processes from a multidisciplinary perspective in teacher education. Theoretically, meta-emotion philosophies are more or less implicit and habitual, and one can argue that a critical emotional awareness based in broad emotion research is important in order for educators to respond professionally in climate change education.  

Ojala, M. (2020). Safe spaces or a pedagogy of discomfort? Senior high-school teachers’ meta-emotion philosophies and climate change education. Journal of Environmental Education
More information on Taylor & Frances Online