Copyright © Louis Schmier

Date: Tue 6/6/2006 6:12 AM
Random Thought: Creating A Motivational Classroom, II

Why can't we talk of love when it comes to education? We so often talk of love in our personal lives and so seldom talk of love in our professorial lives. We are quick to talk of our love of learning or our love of our discipline, and even of our love of teaching, and so slow to talk of our love for each student. Are we afraid that someone will roll their eyes? Are we afraid someone will laugh? Are we afraid of embarrassing ourselves? Why are we so willing to share the books and information, but not consider sharing the compassion? Why are we willing express our feelings for this book or that research finding, but not express our feelings for others? Why do we so concentrate on giving what students need and not on being what students need?

I say you've got to express your love, your unconditional compassion for each student. I do. And, I can tell you it is the way to win hearts, influence minds, and change the future. We have to become out-of-the-closet, in-the-open, out-of-this-world, high-five lovers. Love is by my definition the selfless, total, unconditional promotion of the growth of another. Isn't that what education is all about? We so often talk of love in our personal lives and so seldom talk of love in our professorial lives. My definition of "educating with love" is the act of sensibly sharing more than mere information with students and colleagues. Our experiences and knowledge and insights and wisdom are of little lasting value without what I'll call "soft authorities": empathy, compassion, faith, hope, belief, and love. That is, the ability to reach out and envelop someone with warmth. The beauty of these soft authorities is that no matter where we are in our career or what we do on a campus we each--everyone--possesses them. We can have kind eyeballs. We can have kind lips. We can have kind ears. We can have kind faces. We can speak kindly with our bodies. We can smile gently; we can hug; we can shake hands; we can tap softly on the shoulder; we can sincerely listen; we can intently see; we can involve ourselves emotionally in the growth of students. We can cheer students on. We can congratulate. We can celebrate a student's achievement or show sympathy for a student's failure and help her or him see lessons in her or his mistakes.

I have been pouring over at 160 student journal entries each day, five days a week, semester after semester for the last ten years. Once again, I tell you that students are hungry for love, for compassion, for understanding, for encouragement, for hope, and above all for respect. There never is enough of it. No matter the number of degrees we hold, no matter the positions we hold, no matter the reputations we possess, no matter the "hard" authority we muster, we are all human. And, because we're all human, education is at its best when it is fraught with humanity, when compassion underlies our thoughts and feelings, our motivation, our purpose, our vision, our meaning, and our actions. Each of us can see the sacredness in each student. Each of us can see how incredible each student is. Each of us can get each student's attention, trust, respect, and esteem. On the first day of class and on the last day of class and on many classes in between I dare, without hesitation and without embarrassment, to say, "I love you."

I tell you each of us can become a "you've got to get this prof" kind of prof. Each of us can be totally committed to each student's personal growth. Each of us can share our heart. Each of us can truly care as much for each student's success as we care for our own. Each of us can create a memorable classroom experience for each student. Each of us can make a lasting difference in someone's lives. Each of us can generate and harness the power of caring. People who educate with unconditional love are the happiest, most passionate, most generous, most understanding, most encouraging, most believing, most satisfied, most fulfilled, most dynamic, most focused, and most influencial. They are the most trusted, respected, and esteemed. "Educating with love" gets students' attention. Other kinds get only time. So, close your eyes. Visualize the teachers you've had who are most memorable. Are they smart? Generous? Kind? Loving? Understanding? I bet I know most of your answers.

Enough for now.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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