In recent decades, the role of emotions in teaching has been the topic of several theoretical and empirical studies. More specifically, many scholars have focused their attention on the difficult emotional challenges that teachers face every day, also considering that a widespread problem in schools regards the children’s emotional distress and illiteracy. Hochshild (1983) defined emotional labour as a work on the emotions that the subject is required to perform in order to adapt to the rules of behaviour desired by the organization where he operates. This work consists of expressing, or suppressing, one's emotional states in line with the expectations related to his specific job role. It is relevant to observe that the international literature has highlighted how teaching meets the criteria established by Hochshild for emotional labour, and has investigated its association with emotional intelligence and burnout. Starting from this perspective, we can affirm that teachers perform emotional labour when, in the relationships with students and with colleagues too, they have to induce, neutralize or suppress their emotions in order to make them appropriate to the situations. Hochshild had clarified that she intended to focus on how people feel consciously and not on the unconscious level. The main exponents of the international panorama on this theme have followed her perspective and consequently the unconscious dimension of the emotional labour has remained poorly explored. In particular, there are no studies on the less aware aspects of emotional labour in the teaching field, with rare exceptions. The aim of this article is to consider this less aware side at stake in the dynamics of emotional labour in teaching, using a psychoanalytic perspective. It is argued how some psychoanalytic concepts can broaden the understanding of a complex topic such as that of emotional labour in the classroom: while in the classic vision of emotional labour, the teacher is required to put in place a cognitive effort to experience and express adequate emotions, in the perspective presented here it is shown how teacher can employ a different way to deal with emotions by acquiring emotional skills based on a process of recognition, elaboration and transformation of emotions, without resorting to cognitive efforts. The reported reflections offer a contribution to the support and training interventions aimed at helping teachers facing the emotional requests of their work, in order to improve the quality of teaching, to stimulate professional development and to prevent burnout.
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