‘When There’s Love Inside There’s a Reason Why’: Emotion as the Core of Authentic Learning in One Middle School Classroom

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This article was originally published as:

Fitzsimmons, P., & Lanphar, E. (2011). ‘When there’s love inside there’s a reason why’: Emotion as the core of authentic learning in one middle school classroom. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 19(2), 35-40.

ISSN: 1320-5692


This paper arose from a reflective challenge offered by Alfie Kohn, and an ensuing review of the literature base dealing with the concept of authentic learning. From our perspective, the role that emotional engagement plays in the learning process has generally been left out of the classroom learning equation for an array of reasons, mostly related to educator’s misconceptions and apprehensions. Thus, this paper discusses a qualitative investigation into the role of emotions in the learning process, as developed through one teacher’s praxis in a middle school classroom. Data was also collected from the student’s perspectives, another missing perspective from the current research literature. What emerged from this data was a series of inter-connected socio-emotional reflective practices that were grounded in emotional reactions and subsequent responses. From the student’s perspectives, these provided avenues for deeper engagement in the learning processes. The teacher as facilitator, as opposed to the traditional mode of teaching, was able to engender creative links and exploration of alternative outcomes and learning pathways through a deliberate focus on these emotional connections.


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