Interviewing Women Teachers about Anger in the Workplace: Some Implications for Teacher Education

By Dorney, Judith | Vitae Scholasticae, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Interviewing Women Teachers about Anger in the Workplace: Some Implications for Teacher Education


Dorney, Judith, Vitae Scholasticae


Over time.... What was once a sign of girls' strength and resiliency--their capacity to feel their anger, to know its source, and to respond directly--becomes a liability, at least in those places where white, middle-class values and conventions of femininity prevail. (1)

In the cause of silence, each one of us draws the face of her own fear--fear of contempt, of censure, or some judgment, or recognition, of challenge, of annihilation. But most of all, I think, we fear the very visibility without which we also cannot truly live.... And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength, because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether we speak or not. (2)

Introduction

This qualitative study investigates the understanding and experience of anger in the work of women educators in public schools in the Northeast. I undertook this study for a few reasons. First, I am very interested in Parker Palmer's claim that the person of the teacher matters; that the psychological, emotional, and spiritual development of teachers has an impact on their pedagogical and disciplinary expertise and that this development influences what is communicated to students in classrooms and schools. (3) Palmer's assertion has resonance for me as a former high school teacher and now as a teacher educator. Secondly, I have conducted a number of teacher retreats and workshops focused on exploring gender messages communicated to students. The retreats and workshops invariably have involved discussion of the participants' gender development, and it is in this context that women teachers indicated that anger is frequently a barrier in their relationships with colleagues and administrators and, at times, serves to derail the women's efforts to address problems in their schools. These retreat and workshop encounters underscore the significance of Palmer's views. They have also led me to explore, through the vehicle of interviews, how women teachers develop their understanding and expression of anger and consider what influence anger may have on their work. This essay focuses on the interviews of three of the twenty-seven teachers involved in this project. In addition to demonstrating the kinds of situations that spark their anger in their schools, the interviews reveal what is at stake for these women when they decide to act on or silence their workplace anger. Ultimately, I reflect on implications for the development of teachers through teacher education.

Women, Anger, and Self-esteem

Psychologists within the last three decades have identified the repression of women's anger and examined how this silencing has influenced the development of girls, women, and their relationships in both private and public worlds. (4) These psychologists, along with poet and essayist Audre Lorde and theologian Beverly Harrison, have reinterpreted anger as an essential relational and political emotion because of its potential to instigate change in relationships and to address imbalances in power. Ethicist Sharon Welch illustrates the connection between anger and action in her examination of African American women's literature. Welch identifies an ethic employed by black women in the United States to confront the injustice of racism that uses anger as a source of knowledge. The ethic of risk, which she contrasts with an ethic of control, is dependent upon anger as a touchstone providing information about the insidious nature and persistent presence of social injustice, particularly in the form of racism. This ethic of risk, sparked by anger, recognizes the need for and practice of long-term communal responses to injustice. (5)

The association of anger with action illuminates the frequent conflation of anger and aggression. A distinction must be made between the emotion and the action. Aggression can be expressed both creatively and destructively, and may be sparked in response to a feeling of anger.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Interviewing Women Teachers about Anger in the Workplace: Some Implications for Teacher Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?