So time flies, and the last week of topic 4 came and went. I was spending Easter holiday and being out of office, both physically and mentally.  I couldn’t attend all group meetings, the webinar nor the Tweet chat this time. I neither had the time answering the survey before the webinar. I can honestly say that watching the webinar afterwards and looking at the Tweets a couple of days after the show is really not the same thing as attending live. I haven’t had the opportunity to dive into this topic as deep as I’ve wanted which really annoys me.

However, during this topic we’ve had our focus on emotions, and in our PBL group work we discussed different types of emotions we’ve had during this course and emotions that can play a role in learning. We listed emotions such as confusion, frustration, boredom, confidence, curiosity, interest, eagerness, excitement, shame and guilt. When talking about emotions and learning, the question for the teachers and instructors is how to support group work, despite all the emotional roller coasters and ups-and-downs that might appear in a team? And what about your own emotions, as a teacher? Your challenge is to create a welcoming, positive, environment for students to feel safe and learn in, and also to be emotionally present yourself, remembering that not all of your own emotions might be OK to show and share. Or are they?

Anyway, the word that comes to my mind here is compassion. During the last years, there has been done a lot of research in this field, and I guess it’s some kind of hot topic at the moment. Compassion to yourself, compassion to others, compassion at the work place, compassion in all kinds of different settings etc.

In the book Awakening compassion at work (2017) Monica Worline and Jane E. Dutton write about compassion fostering learning. They present a study of hospital units and rates of medical errors. A surprising finding here is that the teams that seemed most supportive and scored the highest in team performance actually showed the highest rate of medical errors. Why is that? Well, the reason is that it’s not always that clear what actually counts as an error. In the teams with less teamwork and less trust, people didn’t report their “near misses” unless they absolutely had to. The well functioning teams instead were honest and talked about their errors, failures and mistakes, and were willing to learn from these. These teams were also more creative and innovative. The authors write “compassion helps people to greet errors and failures with the open-mindedness and open-heartedness that foster learning”. (2017, 20).

In todays world there might be several nationalities, cultures, traditions and diverse backgrounds represented in a course (a good example is ONL ;). I’d like to argue that this international and global starting point is also a reason to why it’s becoming more and more important for the teacher to be aware of and to address students emotions in a course.



Worline, M. C. & Dutton, J. E. 2017. Awakening compassion at work: The quiet power that elevates people and organizations. First edition. Oakland, CA: BK Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc a BK Business book.


Compassion foster learning