Pick an Emotion – Boredom Doesn’t Count

When I was in college, I had to take Statistics (Psych major, Ed minor). The professor that taught the class had a reputation for scaring the bejeebies out of his students –  a reputation that turned out to be true. Not looking like you were actively trying to solve whatever problem he presented, was an invitation to ridicule. Voicing that you didn’t understand was worse. He used to go over problems on the board, saying things like, “Surely, you can see how simple this is, clearly even you can blah, blah, blah…” usually directed at an unlucky student who had dared to get confused.

Toward the end of the quarter, he revealed why he was so mean. Apparently, research shows that people learn better and retain information more when they are feeling an emotion – preferably a strong one. He chose fear. It must have worked because I remembered the lesson, but when I became a teacher, I tried to inspire joy rather than fear in my students (though in my bad moments, I am sure I inspired the former).

So, given that research, I would imagine that happy teachers = happy students = better learning. But then, that isn’t exactly rocket science. Most of us know this intuitively. Just the same, there are plenty of studies and statistics to back it up.

Happy teaching!

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