Sadness and Education

Emotion, Currere, and La Dispute’s Wildlife

  • Adrian M. Downey Mount Saint Vincent University


A complicated conversation between the author’s experience of sadness and the 2011 album Wildlife by the American post-hardcore band La Dispute, this paper examines the stickiness of positive emotion in education. The author draws on psychoanalytic literature, as well as writing in the field of currere, to suggest a pedagogic value in witnessing sadness both within ourselves and our students—a value that works against the sticky positivity of the educational project. The author highlights the difference between seeking relief from sadness and the integration of sadness within our concept of self, and it is suggested that the work of the teacher is to help facilitate that integration where they can.