The heart of the matter : a teacher's self-study of the emotional curriculum in the foundation phase.
The focus of this self-study research was on understanding and attending to the emotional curriculum in my practice as a teacher within the Foundation Phase (grade 1-3). Taking a humanistic perspective in my study allowed me to understand the emotional curriculum as a process of attending to the inter-related emotional, academic and social needs of learners. The „heart of the matter‟ was a recurring metaphor, representing learners‟ and teachers‟ emotions, as well as heart-full teaching and learning. As the central research participant, I retraced and re-examined my own personal history and created strategies to facilitate the emotional curriculum in my grade 3 classroom. 23 grade 3 learners were also participants in the study. My critical friends, my fellow Master of Education (MEd) self-study researchers, participated by providing support and advice. I used the personal history selfstudy method to recall significant instances that shaped my personal and professional development. I used artefact retrieval, journal writing, memory drawing and family storytelling to assist me in remembering key experiences. Three main themes arose from my personal history narrative: a) affection, warmth and care; b) attentiveness and special awareness; and c) motivation and positivity. These themes offered me initial ideas that I extended in implementing the emotional curriculum. The developmental portfolio method enabled me to account for the enactment of the emotional curriculum. Through deep reflection into the implementation of the heart-full teaching and learning, three significant themes arose: a) heart-full communication; b) careful observation and special attention; and c) relationships. Through this self-study research, I became aware that there is a need for learners to obtain not only academic support at school, but also the emotional support that was mostly lacking in my own schooling, but that I did receive at home. This selfstudy research has made me realise that many learners experience emotional difficulties at school and at home and that they require assistance in learning to express and deal with these challenges. The emotional wellbeing of learners is the heart of education.