Love Is A Better Teacher Than Duty

Jose VilsonResources7 Comments

Albert Einstein and 2nd Wife Elsa

Teaching is a not a profession for the arrogant. Working directly with students takes so much humility that we make a big deal of the small, meaningful encounters, and try to minimize the awful, harrowing moments we consistently witness. A kid whose mother is in the hospital from over-exhaustion at work can barely stay awake all class and finds himself in a swirl of trouble by midday? Comes with the territory. Getting him to get through this set of problems with only a small amount of interruptions? Our day is made. A kid comes in cursing up every and anything in her path and barely lets the teacher get through the lesson with her outbursts? There’s always the next class. Her turning in her homework that you thought she wasn’t even paying attention to? Thank you very much.

These consistent moments where we learn to overcome the personal and professional adversities we face with our students and find the humanity within them is often what makes or breaks our teaching careers. We can go about our business collecting paychecks, learning the latest jargon, flicking tech gadgets at each other until the next one comes out three months later, but until we see the humanity in the work we do, I don’t believe we can truly be effective. We have to approach the job with a love for the people you work for; that tends to overcome the other nonsense around your job.

Even in my position, I come with a firm understanding that I’m not doing this for my administration or any kudos; if anything, I’ve gotten more humble by being a younger staff member helping more veteran staff members improve their pedagogical thinking. I get the chance to see more kids more often, and get a better understanding of how they learn firsthand, and often find myself wanting to help out in any classroom I step into. However, my passion is drawn from the students I directly teach every morning, and fighting against the negative aspects of their lives. I’m living with them through this learning and this experience, even as they don’t see it directly.

Love is a better teacher than duty. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that much out.

Jose, who wonders where your passion lies …

Comments 7

  1. I’ll simply second that emotion/sentiment. It’s easy to forget (given the rest of the drama swirling about) to move from a place of love in my classroom. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I’ve said this in other posts, but I consistently appreciate the thoughtfulness and care you give both to your writing and teaching vocations (loving assignments (not simply duties) to which you are obviously and dually called). It is encouraging to know that you value your work enough to approach it with passion and sensibility. The fact that you go a step further to reflect on it via your writing is commendable. I felt discouraged a few weeks ago when in a parent teacher conference with my 8th grade daughter’s Algebra I teacher, she was told that if she didn’t tighten up that she would be “stuck in a math class with the same kids she has gym with”. I was shocked (well not so much) to think that a teacher thought that her honor students were worth teaching while her students in other level math classes were too much of a challenge to deal with. In addition she assigned them to another class of student. I have to wonder what would really happen if love won over duty in classrooms across the board? Perhaps a passion for teaching would be merged with a passion for learning. Is that such a far reaching thought?

  3. Hello Jose,
    Thanks for reminding us all of the bigger picture to what we do. Your post makes me think of Parker Palmer’s, The Courage to Teach. It is also an important reminder of the essentials we sometimes forget.

  4. Post

    Thanks to everyone who has commented.

    Kat, that’s not too far if we believe it. Hate to sound like a Disney puff piece, but we have to have both if we really want to be good teachers. Good teachers never stop learning.

  5. I know I’m kinda late but I agree, this post is very uplifting and inspiring to read about a teacher that’s devoted to the profession for not-so-selfish reasons. Love not duty is the way to go.

    I really enjoyed this post, just wanted to let you know.

  6. Hello Jose!

    Great post here. Obviously your heart is in the right place.

    What I like more, though, is your head. I used to believe that in the classroom, your heart came first. Love and respect the students and the ‘job’ element will resolve itself. Now I’m not so sure. I think dedication to your craft- as you consistently and obviously display- is the most ‘heart’-felt passion a teacher can have. How am I improving as an educator- not as a friend, social worker, big brother- should be foremost.

    I think this applies especially to young teachers who want to go in there and ‘shake up the system.’ Learn your craft first, be a hero last. Less ‘saving children,’ more checking for understanding on the differences between adding and multiplying polynomials.

    Keep at it. Thanks.

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