Authenticity in teaching and learning: How far do we need to go?


  • Ciara Duignan
  • Denise McGrath University College Dublin


Meaningful engagement with students in teaching and learning requires the
interpersonal skills to develop trust and rapport, and the emotional intelligence
and courage to be reciprocal in our interactions. In teaching contexts which seek
to facilitate students’ wellbeing and lifelong personal and professional
development skills, these requirements become personal – demanding honesty
and vulnerability from the educator. We propose the value of reciprocal
authenticity in these spaces and present the challenges this poses for the
educator and team teacher. The context for this reflection is the development
and delivery of a credit-bearing, discipline-agnostic student wellbeing and
personal development module in an Irish university, wherein we describe our
experience of the reflective process and use of the third space in co-creating a
learning environment with students. As efforts to embed wellbeing in the
curriculum gain traction, we ask whether we as educators are prepared to
display this authenticity and consider how we can be supported to cultivate
authentic spaces.