We talk about teaching as an act of pedagogy or inquiry or coaching or guidance. We talk about data and programs and techniques and the words of experts to the point that we can, at times, sound like mechanics talking about how to work on cars. And there are plenty of people who want to talk about teaching as if it's a science, a series of data-driven stimuli designed to elicit a certain response and build certain competencies, as if our students are lab rats.
But we should also talk about teaching as an act of love.
Yes, it's difficult, mostly because "love" is a word that tries to encompass many words, many ideas, many emotions, many impulses.
But the intentional action of meeting our students where they are, seeing them as they are, hearing them as they speak, helping them drive toward what they would become-- that's love. To engage with students as human beings while trying to focus on who they are, what they want, what they need, to shut up and listen, to open eyes and really see, to build a classroom around what they need and not what we want, to teach them and not just cover material by throwing it at them-- if that's not a form of love, what is it?
Yes, it's awkward to say so, both because of the sense that our words could be misconstrued and because, really, it feels a little like bragging. That's why I admire walking man Jesse Turner and his unapologetic act of love. And it's one reason I admire Jose Vilson and what he says in this short video. I've now watched it multiple times and you should, too: