Arguing about LOVE in the Classroom

Photo by Omri Epstein

O.k. I’m not arguing out loud with live people. There aren’t any available and at school we never talk about such things.

But I AM arguing with a book, teacher’s magazines, blog posts and postings on social media. It’s time to get back into the mindset of returning to school and I object to the attitude of “All you need is LOVE”.

I think the meaning of LOVE is being badly abused.

LOVE isn’t a switch the teacher turns on when the school year begins and then turns off on the last day. LOVE doesn’t have an expiry date known in advance, otherwise known as the end of the year.

In relationships where LOVE is truly present, participants don’t administer tests, grade performance regularly (in numbers) and possibly fail achieving the objective (aka the class). Behavior isn’t recorded each time the participants meet in a computer program, as it is in school.

In fact, very often excellent teachers do not make good tutors for their own personal children. That’s telling, isn’t it?

Objectives. That’s the key. Classes are designed, by nature, to achieve certain objectives.

In order to achieve those objectives, a student, any student, needs to feel respected, valued. That his/her abilities are applauded while weaknesses are recognized, addressed and not belittled.

Above all the student needs to trust the teacher. Trust the teacher to be a professional with the knowledge, ability and desire to assist the student on the path to achieving the objectives, receiving suitable support along the way.

The classroom must be a safe place for a student.

There are many demands the teacher must live up to.

LOVE isn’t one of them.




8 thoughts on “Arguing about LOVE in the Classroom”

  1. Thanks Naomi, I think this is a really interesting topic. Can I ask what spurred you to write it? Teachers are loaded up with a whole lot of ideological baggage from society that whether we like it or not becomes part of who we are and how we feel (or profess to feel, or feel like we have to profess to feel) about our jobs and our students. I like the clear emphasis on objectives and professionalism in your post.

    1. Thank you Sophia for understanding and not calling me cold hearted.
      I’ve been doing a lot of work related reading this week and have gone back to reading blog posts and social media (after a vacation) and it really got to me.

  2. I got a true lesson on this subject a week ago. One of my responsibities as a literature counselor is to check the portfolios that the teachers graded and make sure that the teachers taught according to the curriculum. I came across a portfolio that was poorly handled by the teacher and the student’s grade suffered as a result of the teacher’s irresponsible approach.
    The student is hard of hearing and I had been in touch with the teacher on several occassions (she was even on my quick dial) to insure that the student was receiving theaccommodations she needed in order to succeed. The teacher had assured me the she LOVES her students and would never hurt them and that she takes a relaxed and loving approach and I should stop worrying.
    This particular teacher is 10 years older than me and retired this year. In addition she was the teacher who embraced me when I started teaching. I remember her words to me the first week of school. “Don’t worry about the small stuff. Just love them!” AT the time her words were very reassuring. I could stop worrying that I was a new teacher and completely clueless.
    I truly think that if a teacher doesn’t love her students, if s/he can’t care deeply for them, s/he has no business setting foot in the classroom. Students learn better when they know that their teacher cares. However it is never a replacement nor an excuse for unprofessional and slothenly behavior in the classroom.

  3. I have no argument with what you wrote Naomi, but I have to repeat Sophia’s question? What was the connection you made between the poem and teacher love?

    1. Steve,
      I don’t believe I mentioned a poem. But I’ve been reading a book, ASCD magazines, blog posts and postings on social media. And there are some teachers I have in mind. Perhaps because I’m a special ed teacher, the frequency with which LOVE is mentioned seems unbalanced. The book I’m reading IS good and inspiring, but boy does he lay on the LOVE thickly! It’s Chili Tropper ” A place in the world” (in Hebrew). I know he’s done a lot for extremely difficult young people and most of us don’t teach such students but it was kind of the proverbial straw.
      Thanks for reading!

  4. Dear Naomi,
    ” They don’t care how much we know , until they know how much we care”
    I find the following saying useful in defining my relationship with my pupils!! I couldn’t agree with you more – we should care for our students, love is for family & friends 🙂

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