Creativity, curiosity and catharsis: positive emotions in climate change education through picturebooks
Rowan Oberman
Environmental Education Research
Institute of Education

Climate change education is associated with negative emotions. Picturebooks are considered powerful resources for teaching complex issues like climate change, partly for their capacity to be emotionally engaging and motivate learners. This DCU research study explores the positive emotional experiences supported by picturebook use in climate change education. 

It draws on data collected in a design-based study involving the progressive refinement of a programme delivered in three primary schools with students aged 10 to 12 years. Data included child focus groups, audio recordings of whole-class discussion, teacher interviews and concept maps. 

The data analysis included coding expressions of emotions in the data by: the emotion, the object of the emotion and the subject expressed as experiencing the emotion. Findings suggest that picturebooks with unhappy endings and difficult thematic content can nonetheless give rise to positive emotions by providing surprising, cathartic and creative experiences, which in turn, support students’ critical, complex and creative thinking.