What’s love got to do with it?
The other day, in my Writing Nonfiction class, I heard myself say, “You don’t have to love, er, like each other, but you must honor and respect each others’ writing and processes of learning.” That word love slipped out before I could catch it and I felt a little embarrassed. It’s just not the kind of word we use in education.
But isn’t that kind of stupid? In reports about why kids stay in school in areas of high dropout rates, the same explanation–from the kids– appears over and over.
“Teacher X really cared about me and…
…I didn’t want to let/him her down.”
…they made me believe I could do it.”
…they even used to come find me and bug me until I came back to class.”
If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
When kids start to wake up to learning and do their work, are they working for themselves? Nope. I think they start working for us until they learn to work for themselves. Love.
Two small examples where the word love made a surprise appearance & stuck with me:
Let’s forget the sentimental view of love and think instead of how love becomes visible through teachers’ daily work. According to Steve Gordon, preceding everything else in teaching is “the core belief in students” and “a fundamental belief in the lives & minds of students.” … Love, then, is not simply a sentimental conferring of emotion; it is a blend of confidence, faith, and admiration for students and an appreciation for the strengths they bring with them. It is some of these qualities that make for effective teaching.”
Then there’s a little video of Clay Shirky’s 2008(?) talk at the Supernova conference. It’s about the internet but you could substitute the word education and Shirky’s words would still apply– especially in the area of educational reform.
From the talk: “We have always loved one another. We’re human. It’s something we’re good at. But up until recently, the radius and half-life of that affection has been quite limited. With love alone, you can get a birthday party together. Add coordinating tools, and you can write an operating system. “In the past, we could do little things for love, but big things, big things required money. Now, we can do big things for love.”
Shirky says tools and I think social communities on the web, other web tools, software, collaboration across boundaries… and love.
Now we can do big things for love.
Sounds like a plan to me.