a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher
by Jacob Shylla
(In celebration of our first year, we’re continuing to repost some readers’ favorites. This one on loving students, from our series “teaching as a gift,” struck a chord with some of you.)
Teaching is a calling that provides us with both interesting challenges and revelations. Making the most of the opportunities and facing the challenges can be a juggling act, and when you are dealing with a classroom full of young students, it is even more difficult.
As a teacher, I have found myself at times simply administering a tried and tested solution without addressing the person(s) involved. And though the problem may appear to have been solved, students affected by it often fail to show any sign of progress or growth. At such times, I am reminded of the words of a fellow teacher who said:
We must always remember that the heart of education is the education of the heart, and if all our efforts are directed only to the head, then we have failed to really educate the person.
D. L. Moody is credited with observing, “If a man is stealing nuts and bolts from a railway track, and, in order to change him, you send him to college, at the end of his education, he will steal the whole railway track.”Moody’s statement is as pointed as it is practical. The crux of the matter, here, lies in the need to stir the heart as much as or more than we stimulate the mind. This is where teaching with the intention both to inform and transform becomes a challenge and an opportunity. And it is only when we approach teaching as a gift of love that we can truly impact the whole person.
I have found that only when I have stepped into the classroom and taught with my heart—and I don’t mean being passionate about it but loving the young students before me—have I been able to teach well and meaningfully. If we can connect at the level of the heart, illuminate at the level of the mind and apply at the level of the person then we have accomplished our goal as a teacher. Richard Lakin puts it rather beautifully:
Love is the basis of all authentic teaching – both at home and at school.
Love, as a word describing a very powerful emotion, needs to be rescued from the morass that it has sunk into. When we talk about teaching as a gift of love, I believe we must also take it one step further and elaborate upon the nature of the love that we have in mind. And this is perhaps the key to being able to teach with the right manner of love that will prove beneficial to students in the long run. We can love our students in so many ways, many of which bless them, but some that limit them. Our gift of love needs to be one that will empower and equip them to face life as mature confident adults.
Again, Richard Lakin’s description of teaching as a gift/act of love is very pertinent in this regard:
Loving teachers, like loving parents, encourage students to do their best, engage them in active learning, praise children for their accomplishments, help them learn from mistakes, set limits when needed and place a priority on nurturing self-confidence. Furthermore, loving teachers help their students to aim high, while creating an accepting atmosphere and emphasizing positive personal relationships and basic values of kindness, consideration, cooperation and thoughtfulness.
He has said it all. Need I say more?
The Master Teacher who is our role model taught us in much the same way. He stirred our hearts and stimulated our minds. He accepts us, warts and all, and calls us to endeavor to be like him. More than anything, He loved us. Can we do any less?
 Richard Lakin (2007), Teaching as an Act of Love: Thoughts and Recollections of a Former Teacher, Principal and Kid, iUniverse, Inc, p. 3.
 Lakin, pp. 3-4.