What Tashi Taught Me: "Petagogy" and the Education of Emotions

Seonaigh MacPherson


Begun as a eulogy to the author’s late companion dog, Tashi, this paper presents a “petagogy” of emotions as a strategy to enhance human apprehension of our impact on the greater-than-human-world. Occupying the null curriculum of modern education, both emotions and non-human animals have been ill-served by science and the disciplinary organization of modern formal education. Drawing on ecological perspectives of symbiosis and mutual interdependence and a narrative inquiry into her relations with Tashi, the author considers six areas for the education of emotions through petagogy: mutual social bonding, self-regulating negative impulses, enhancing positive feelings, developing empathy, communicating to cooperate, and responding to suffering and death. With these foci, inquiry into animal-human companionship offers reciprocal opportunities to deepen and develop our emotional lives and empathic capacities across species.

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