Photo by Mark Daynes on Unsplash


In a workshop I attended last year a colleague of mine blamed me for expressing my emotions openly on several issues we discussed. For him it exceeded the boundaries of what he thought was a proper behavior in academic environment. I remember how confused I felt by that time, not being sure about whether his reaction was caused by cultural incompatibility or a divergence in educational traditions. Or maybe he was right and it was really too much of self-expression?

But what is emotion? According to Schwarz-Friesel (2007) emotions are internally represented and subjectively experienced syndrome categories that are introspectively and mentally as well as physically registered by an individual. They are connected to positive and negative evaluations and can be realized in expressive variants that are perceivable by others (p. 55). To me the most important part of this definition is the connection of emotions and evaluations. Hence, emotions are expressions and manifestations of our attitudes to things, persons and events around us. So can there be a learning without having attitude to the subject to be learned? Can there be a discussion without part-taking and positioning towards the issues to be discussed? Can there be a teaching without empathy to a learner and his situation?

You can imagine, how relieved and delighted I was when I came to find out in the course of ONL191 that emotions actually do matter in teaching practice (Cleveland-Innes 2019). What is more, after having read Chapter 1 from the book of Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes & Garrison (2013) I realized that there are many things in terms of establishing the emotional presence that I did intuitively in my seminars without being aware of their purpose, importance and usefulness. It turned out that most of them lead to “the creation of open communication and trust”, thus serving to establishing community and cohesion (ibd. p. 7). For instance, I do express delight and excitement, apply humor and irony when discussing literary texts, movies and other cultural phenomena, and of course I also encourage my students to pose their attitudes and opinions as often as possible. It also may occur that we share our experience and laugh together. And I guess sooner or later it becomes evident to my students that I am pretty enthusiastic and passionate about the subject I teach and sometimes – if I am lucky enough – I manage to pass that passion on to them too. Now I know: Showing enthusiasm and passion, expressing one’s own attitudes and emotions may be essential in teaching practice. So let me tell you: Express yourself!

Express yourself!