How to take emotions related to animal welfare into consideration
Emotions have an ambiguous status in the pedagogy of the socially acute questions. The expression of emotions can disturb the class, the teacher and the image he or she has of his or her status. It can be scary. It can also affect the learning of the learner who expresses an emotion, especially when it is too strong. But it is also the driving force behind the desire to mobilize and promote learning.
Animal welfare evokes emotions of different kinds: it can be anger towards a society that makes the farmer feel guilty, sadness, disgust towards animal suffering, joy in the attachment relationship that is made with the animal. If these emotions cannot be expressed, they lead to the establishment of psychological defence mechanisms that are often detrimental to the learner's psychological health.
It therefore seems to us desirable to encourage the expression of emotions, to make them a lever of learning rather than a hindrance.
For the educator: enable the expression of emotions in a constructive manner
For the learner: to be considered in their own sensitivities, to consider expressing emotions as a way to understanding oneself.
We consider two major steps: (1) learning to recognize and express one's emotions, (2) learning to question one's emotions...
Learning to express emotions
Emotions, whatever they are, must be welcomed. To allow expression of emotions, whatever they may be, is to welcome the person in their authenticity, to allow them to become aware of themself, and to better understand others.
It is sometimes difficult for a learner to express their emotions. He/she must feel the right to express emotions and therefore feel such emotions.
In the literature, many texts on animal suffering can be suggested to the learners, asking them to express what they feel.
The Anicare films can also be used with the same goal. They are likely to generate emotions of anger, joy, sadness, disgust, surprise, etc.
At the end of the film screening or a debate, the teacher can invite participants to a free expression of emotions, while asking them express the bodily feeling that reflects the emotion. To express your emotion is to distance yourself from it. It's starting to tame it. Other means can be used to express emotions with regards to a situation of animal suffering: painting, sculpture, poetry, body movement, photo-montage... all offer ways to express one's emotion, but also to begin to deposit it, to question it.
Question what the emotion says about us
They emotions that a film can evoke, while welcomed, may initially be very strong. They then calm down and can give way to an intention, a movement, a message that makes sense to the learner. In other words, emotion is a bodily movement that invites action. It meets a homeostatic need for a return to well-being. It is an emergent quality generated by and during the process of change, i.e. the reflexive process generated by the didactic approach itself. Emotion is talking about us. What does it tell us? This is the challenge of this pedagogical phase, to question what emerges from a deposited emotion. Expression by a person experiencing an emotion is likely to trigger a power of action, a desire, a change of perspective. Allowing expression means exploring the diversity of the ethics at stake, but also highlighting the new knowledge to which this desire responds. This can then be an opportunity to become part of a training project, with the educator taking care that emerging projects are part of an ethic of respect for others. It may also involve identifying philosophical issues through the expression of students and inviting them to a debate that allows them to learn to listen to and tolerate the thoughts of others.
Pitfalls and recommendations
Welcoming emotions is not easy because as an educator we may also be recipients of their violence. If the expression of emotions disturbs us, it may be better not to engage in such pedagogy. Welcoming emotions presupposes feeling anchored, in a form of inner security. It requires a great deal of respect and sensitivity on the part of the teacher to receive what the student delivers.
“I proposed literary texts to teachers that made animals talk, particularly through the suffering they could feel. I asked them how they felt. It wasn't always easy to express directly what one could feel. Often the person makes an analysis of the text, an analysis of what the author is trying to create, but does not talk about their own emotions. It's a real learning process, or re-learning to talk about emotions."
“We often feel like we're a bit of a softy. We can be perceived as overly sensitive or fragile. During the training, my colleagues said to me, "Oh yes, maybe we can in fact say what we think, what we feel.”