Sunday, March 1, 2009

All You Need Is Love

I had a conversation last night with a fellow artist about what inspires me. My gut instinct was to say love. It's true, I do what I do because of love. I could not be a teacher without love.

I then got to thinking about Shakespeare. I am attempting to teach Julius Caesar to my 9th graders. The play talks a great deal about love even though it is a tragedy. Brutus loves Caesar, but he loves his country more. Cassius loves Brutus and is hurt when Brutus represses his love for his friend. Mark Antony loves Caesar and is deeply hurt when he is killed. Though it is a tragedy and everyone dies, the play is as much about love as it is about death.

I am fascinated by the multifaceted definitions and implications of the word 'love'. The Oxford English dictionary has nine different uses for the word. The fourth one is the one I will use here. It reads:

"A feeling or disposition of deep affection or fondness for someone, typically arising from a recognition of attractive qualities, from natural affinity, or from sympathy and manifesting itself in concern for the oth 'love'er's welfare and pleasure in his or her presence (distinguished from sexual love at sense 4a); great liking, strong emotional attachment; (similarly) a feeling or disposition of benevolent attachment experienced towards a group or category of people, and (by extension) towards one's country or another impersonal object of affection."

You can love a tree or you can love another person. There is the love a mother has for a child and the love a person has for their partner. There is the love one has for their pet and the love one has for their favorite dessert. Add to that list a teacher who loves her students.

I love being a teacher because it gives me the ability to foster intellectual and personal growth in my students. I love English literature because of the way it captures human emotion for people who find self expression to be a difficult task.

Most of all, I move my students. I love them because they want to learn, but they don't know it yet. I love them for their light bulb moment when they figure something out. I love them for having the ability to make me feel like I am a teacher. You know, like when one of your most challenging students tells you the activity you gave him, "made him think." I love them for who they are despite the fact that they can be a tiny bit lazy.

I have a natural affinity, a strong emotional connection to my students and to what I do. I am passionate about my line of work.

I am fiercely overprotective of my students. I protect them from each other and from themselves. I chide self-depreciation and encourage self-actualization.

I could not do this job if I did not love it. I don't understand how anyone teaches when they don't love what they do.

Taylor Mali loves being a teacher. Here is his piece, "What Teachers Make"

Oxford English Dictionary - Love (Restricted Database)

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