Can we talk about … emotions?

As I read about the Affective Domain as part of Bloom’s Taxonomy, I can’t help thinking that I rarely consider the emotional side of adult education. For some reason I have this impression that, after K-12, students have matured to the point where they can (and should) just check their feelings at the classroom door and get on with cognitive learning. Is that realistic?  Is it maybe missing a whole realm of learning opportunities?

I’ve had experiences as both teacher and student where engagement was nothing but an uphill battle. The topic was boring and we all felt like we wanted to be somewhere else. If we could bring ourselves to address the big, boring elephant in the room and make us want to be there, wouldn’t that be refreshing? Productive? Dare I say … FUN??

Perhaps we could take this one step farther. Once we recognize that we all bring our emotions into the classroom, couldn’t we view that as a tool? At the risk of sounding manipulative, it’s an intriguing idea to go beyond the cognitive and use students’ emotions to facilitate the learning. We could present ideas in exciting ways. We could stir feelings of disgust or sadness or hatred, as appropriate.

Now that I can’t unlearn the fact that emotions will play a part in my teaching – whether I like it or not – I may as well consider that another tool to serve the purpose. I’m sure it will make the experience far more interesting for me as well.


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