Answering the question whether one can know when to trust our emotions in the pursuit of knowledge we are to consider the definitions each of these notions expresses. There are cases when emotions are helpful and even necessary in knowing while in another case emotions are harmful. Everything depends on subject and a final outcome of knowledge. Considering history and mathematics as areas of knowledge, I am going to check whether these two subjects can be learnt with the help of emotions.
Creating a thesis, I tried to deal with particular examples to make sure that all the arguments I refer to are strong and reasonable. Therefore, emotions are very important while learning history, however, they are harmful and unnecessary while studying mathematics as history is a subject based on perception of events through the analysis of supportive reasons, decisions, and personal attitude, while mathematics is an exact science which cannot stand any emotional coloring and can be learnt successfully only if strict data and argumentation is offered.
To be able to consider the thesis appropriately and prove the hypothesis it is important to understand what we are talking about. Here is a list of definitions how they are to be understood in the context of this paper. History and mathematics are the areas of knowledge commonly taught in educational establishments. History is a science about events in the past, the reasons of their occurrence and outcomes. History also dwells upon people, their life and the way how they influenced the events. Mathematics is an exact science about numbers and how they are related to each other. Emotions are particular reactions of people on specific actions or events.
Moreover, emotions show coloring of the event or subjects, whether positive or negative, depending on particular understanding of the issue. Before getting down to discussing the role of emotions in learning history and mathematics, the ways of learning are to be discussed in detail and the role of emotion in understanding and remembering information in general.
Ways of Knowing
There are several ways how a person may get to know information. For example, a person may get to know information by seeing, listening, touching, smelling, and tasting. Each time a person uses one of these senses new and more varied information may be learnt. Moreover, a person may learn information intentionally and by chance. Emotions are used in learning to attract people, to make them interested in a particular subject and to involve into the learning process.
Emotions may be both positive and negative, therefore, they differently affect human desire to learn. According to the research results drawn by Ingleton, “Past emotions and memories may be experienced consciously or unconsciously in the present, and are ongoing in the maintenance of self-esteem and identity” (Ingleton 9). Therefore, emotions affect not knowledge itself, but the very desire of a person either to continue studying or not.
Remembering personal success in the past, people may have a desire to study more, but previous disappointment may be a reason for refusing from studying. Thus, before stating whether emotions are helpful in learning information or not it is important to make sure that emotions people feel are not connected with previous experience, otherwise, it is not what I want to speak about. Considering emotions in learning as the way of remembering information, people are on the right way. Thus, the further step in this discussion is to consider two areas of knowledge, mathematics and history involving emotions into learning as the way to remember information, not as the issue for being encouraged either to learn the subject or not.
Learning History through Emotions
History is a subject about people and events. Even though the advantages of visual information have been proved many times, many historians are sure that test is the best way of learning. While learning all senses of students are to be involved. Berry, Schmied, and Schrock have conducted a research where they tried to define the level of emotional use while teaching history. The research results are predicted, as they “were seeking to use an emotional image (happy, sad, disturbing, inspiring, etc.) to enhance a student’s memory of some content information that followed” (Berry, Schmied, and Schrock 439).
The information which was supported with exclamatory sentences, bright and emotional pictures is remembered better than simple enumeration of facts. It is obvious that when people emotionally reconsider historical events, when they involve emotions in discussing facts, treating people and their decisions, information is better remembered. It seems that a person filters the information through personal mind.
The data is not only heard or listened, it is also remembered on the level of emotions. Those people who not only learn information but try to perceive it remember it better. Hogan also conducted a research devoted to the understanding of the usefulness of emotions while leaning history. He came to conclusion that there are “undoubtedly tensions between scientific and humanistic approaches to emotion, and it is good to try to use that tension creatively” (Dixon 14).
For example, when I studied the information about the First World War I was shocked with the facts. The number of deaths and the way how the guilty were punished affected me. I remember those facts better as I felt emotionally the facts of the war. Therefore, emotions are to be used while teaching and learning history as this is a subject which requires personal judgment of the events in the past. As a researcher says, “The emotional meanings of faces and bodies are produced only by placing them in context, and the most relevant contexts often take the form of particular, personal narratives” (Dixon 14), however, such conclusion may be drawn only about history.
Learning Math through Emotions
Dealing with mathematics, absolutely different side of human knowledge is considered (Hogan 47). It is impossible to relate history to mathematics as while studying history people can take the facts and interpret them from their personal perspective. Learning mathematics people are unable to interpret facts as they want to. Math is an exact science where each step is to be reasoned and emotional coloring just bothers a person.
No matter how well a person knows a subject, if emotions are used, he/she may distract from calculations and one is going to be mistaken. Even speaking of teaching children with emotional, behavioral and social difficulties, where a teacher is to be emotional to make sure that children are open and fair, the scholars stress on the necessity to be accurate while teaching math (Hogan 47). Children are not to involve emotions when dealing with mathematics.
Considering any formulae which has already been proven, it is possible to imagine what would be if a mathematician referred to feelings while creating argumentative prove of the issue. Proving a theory is a very complicated procedure. In many cases a mathematician has an idea and using different math laws and calculations he/she tries to prove it. Emotions are not to be involved here as they are going to distract, make a mathematician to refuse from reasonable and argumentative presentation of the facts and refer to personal vision of the problem.
However, math is an exact science and it is important to remember. Emotional consideration brings personal opinion, however, no personal opinion can be in math, only strict formulae and reasonable facts. It is possible to relate “educational policies and practices with learning outcomes” (Hinton, Miyamoto and Della-Chiesa 87).
I want to tell about my personal experience, I had to solve the issue and the get correct outcome was to be the only possible variant. I had to remember the formulae, to follow necessary steps and to get the only possible solution. Emotions were of no need. I just had to remember the process of calculation and making necessary steps get a correct answer. Generally, I did not have to remember how this formula was developed, I just had to know the procedure of solution and the final result. This makes math different from history.
Therefore, it may be concluded that emotions can be used while getting knowledge, however, it is important to understand when exactly emotions are appropriate. In case people need to consider the process of decision making without particular importance in the outcome (which may be any depending on personal opinion) emotions are appropriate. Otherwise, when people have to solve the problem with the importance of the outcome the emotions are extra.
Having considered history as the example of the science where people have to refer to emotions for better learning, it is possible to find similar sciences where emotions are helpful as well. Such sciences as arts, literature, chemistry and biology are better learnt if emotions are involved. However, physics, mathematics and other exact sciences do not involve emotions. Information people get for learning should be correct, precise and important.
Therefore, the hypothesis stated at the beginning of this discussion is correct. The hypothesis sounds as follows, emotions are very important while learning history, however, they are harmful and unnecessary while studying mathematics. Having presented a number of facts and supportive arguments, I managed to support this theory with the facts. Additionally, this information would be remembered better if I referred to visuals with stressing on emotions. Emotional coloring of information is important when a person should consider it from personal perspective and the process of from the starting point to the conclusion is important. However, it is inappropriate to refer to emotions when the result is to be strict and no variations are allowed.
Berry, Chad, Schmied, Lori A. and Josef Chad Schrock. “The role of emotion in teaching and learning history: A scholarship of teaching exploration.” The History Teacher 41.4 (2008): 437-452. Print.
Dixon, Thomas. “Feeling differently.” Arts & Humanities Research Council 2011. Web.
Hinton, Christina, Miyamoto, Koji and Bruno Della-Chiesa. “Brain Research, Learning and Emotions: implications for education research, policy and Practice.” European Journal of Education 43.1 (2008): pp. 87-103. Print.
Hogan, Susan. “Being emotionally available: teaching mathematics to children with EBSD.” Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics 21.3 (2001): pp. 47-51. Print.
Ingleton, Christine. “Emotion in learning: a neglected dynamic.” HERDSA Annual International Conference. (1999): pp. 1-11. Print.