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Disappointment in teacher-student relationships

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One of the most common experiences in teaching-learning situations is the phenomenon of disappointment. Teachers feel disappointed in students, students feel disappointed in themselves. These feelings are expressed in various ways in classrooms. As teachers, however, we rarely reflect on what we communicate in our expressions of disappointment to our students. What does reflection reveal about the pedagogical significance of disappointment? In this paper, I describe disappointment tentatively as 'the unpleasant feeling that occurs when desired expectations of sufficient importance do not come true'. This simple definition subsequently gives rise to various relational and moral sensibilities. I show how teachers express their disappointments with regard to their students, how they may attempt to manipulate students' behaviours and motivation to learn, what meaning and significance disappointment may carry for one's self-concept, and how insensitivity on a teacher's part may exacerbate the negative effects of the experience of disappointment. Finally, I examine how educators may help students to learn to deal with disappointment.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2000-01-01

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