Teaching and Loving

December 14, 2008

Scott Peck, in his book ‘The Road Less Travelled’, writes:

“It is the willingness of the therapist to extend himself for the purpose of nurturing the patient’s growth – willingness to go out on a limb, to truly involve oneself at an emotional level in the relationship, to actually struggle with the patient and with oneself. In short, the essential ingredient of successful deep and meaningful psychotherapy is love.”

The same is true of teaching. The growth of the human spirit requires love, yet I have seen no more discussion of the importance of the role of loving in teaching than Scott Peck found in the professional writing in his domain. “We seem”, he writes, “to be embarrassed by the subject of love”. We often because we confuse being in love and loving; one an uncontrolled hormonal and emotional reaction to another being of limited duration, the other a considered commitment to the wellbeing and spiritual growth of another.

Without this genuine concern, this commitment to each of my students, I could not teach. The desire to enter into the perspective of the student and understand their perspective and concerns: what they are capable of learning at a specific moment, to provide structure and discipline while always questioning one’s own perspective. By being open and listening I learn how extraordinary is each one of them and how, given encouragement, we are all capable of being ”good”. Too often do criticism and imposed limits breed the fear that prevent us from daring to be ourselves.

Loving is accepting and if we are loved and accepted, we will dare to grow.