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Postcard #7

smalina's picture

Quoting M. Scott Peck, bell hooks defines love as “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth [. . .] Love is as love does. Love is an act of will—namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love” (hooks 28-29).

I have been thinking deeply about the role of love in teaching, particularly in a conventional classroom setting because the education system seems established in such a way that it is a uniquely hostile space for love. So often, teaching and learning are established as two sides of binary, and teachers are sked to enter a classroom defensive of their role as an expert, unwilling to identify and explore the spaces where they could (and should) be a learner.

Peck’s (and hooks’) definition of love asks that the lover makes the conscious decision to “extend one’s self,” a reaching for more which  feels very much like Appadurai’s definition of researching to gain knowledge—an idea which I feel could here be used interchangeably with learning. Someone who loves must be willing to learn  for the very purpose of their loved one’s ability to grow and learn themselves.  As Moll, Amanti, Neff, and Gonzalez write in their piece on funds of knowledge for teaching, the visits made by eachers to students’ homes “are neither casual visits nor school-business visits, but visits in which the teachers assume the role of the learner, and in doing so, help establish a fundamentally new, more symmetrical relationship with the parents of the students” (139). This, to me, feels very much like an exercise of love for the learner, a moment in which the teacher goes above and beyond expectations, working in tandem with parents to show love for the students in their classroom.