The Attachment Theory: The Nature Of Teacher-Student Relationships

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1. The Nature of Teacher-student Relationships
The emotional dimension of teaching is reflected in the definition of a relationship, defined as ‘a state of connectedness between people, especially an emotional connection’. Thus, a teacher-student relationship can be described as ‘the emotional bond student and teacher share with each other’ where the quality of the relationship is determined by how strong the bond is. Both student and teacher characteristics can shape and change the quality of relationships.

2. Defining a Good Teacher-student Relationship
Research on teacher-student relationships defines high-quality, or good, teacher-student relationships as having low levels of conflict and high levels of closeness. Such a relationship is characterized by ‘affection, warmth, and open communication’ between student and teacher. This definition is based on extended attachment theory from research on mother-child relationships. Attachment theory claims that children need to develop an affectionate bond with at least one main caregiver in order to feel safe. If caregivers are not sensitive and responsive in interactions with infants, children can develop insecure patterns of attachment that are negative for children’s development. The quality of mother-child relationships in turn affects the quality of relationships that students form with their teachers. While attachment theory was developed in research with young children, it has also been applied

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