Teaching, Like Parenting, Must Be First and Foremost an Act of Love.
Teaching as an Act of Love

Sipping a cup of coffee in a nearly empty neighborhood mall, I noticed a young dad encouraging his youngster to crawl. Slowly I became more and more drawn into this father and son scene. I observed carefully as the infant propelled himself forward on all fours, zigzagging randomly in all directions. He was taking advantage of the luxury of a side hallway void of all moving creatures aside from his dad pushing the now empty carriage. I could sense the child’s glee as he moved about on the sea of freshly polished tiles experiencing his new found freedom.

But what caught my attention was the interaction of this twosome. The father clapped in joy as his son moved towards him and then, when the child followed the carriage a few times around the lone potted tree in the middle of the hallway, he bent over laughing excitedly, and encouraged his youngster to continue on his own. All sorts of verbal and non verbal communication followed when suddenly he picked up the child, held him high above his head, then grasped him lovingly in a bear hug and twirled around in circles. Rather than put the son back in the carriage to rest, the dad put the toddler back on the floor behind the potted tree, and he began to play peek-a-boo and a modified hide and seek game, using the large planter to partially obstruct their view. When that game ran its course, the father suddenly became the Pied Piper, humming aloud and waving a plastic water bottle in the air as he marched in giant exaggerated steps enticing his son to join him in a father-son parade.

Wishing I could have caught this scene on camera, or at least on paper, I left my coffee to hurry to a nearby stationery store to buy paper and pen. Sadly for me, when I returned just a few minutes later, the father and son were gone. The potted tree stood alone in the middle of the empty hallway.

However, this brief encounter underscored my perspective on what real teaching is about. Love is the basis of all authentic teaching—both at home and at school. The dad did not follow a lesson plan to encourage his child to practice and enjoy his new found skill of crawling; the dad’s motivation and sense of what was the right thing to do at the moment emanated from his heart and his relationship with his little son.

A parent doesn’t need lesson plans to encourage language development during the child’s early years nor to encourage the child to read, nor to do the multitude of things that children are involved in as they mature. Parenting is the natural outgrowth of a parent’s love. In the same manner, teaching children in the more formal school setting is also based upon love.

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.

Without an expression of this caring, loving feeling when working with kids, teachers and their students are all left lifeless and without much meaning at the end of the day. When all is said and done, teaching must be first and foremost an act of love!

by Richard Lakin
Excerpted from Teaching as an Act of Love:
Thoughts and Recollections of a Former
Teacher, Principal and Kid
Copyright © 2007