Learning best through love
Online learning offers amazing opportunities in our time. Yet there’s one thing which learning over a screen never seems to be able to fully accommodate – namely, the emotional relationship or bond that develops between a teacher and student who regularly share the same space. If a bond of love is present, learning expands exponentially.
Mrs. Rainier (it wasn’t “Ms.” in those days) was my favorite grade school teacher (it wasn’t “elementary school” back then either). I don’t know if third grade was simply the year when schooling “clicked” for me, or if Mrs. Rainier was simply that good. All I know is that I had a crush on her. I loved her. Her coal black hair, cut as a smart short Bob, matched my idea of smart. She was tall and dressed in classy, black pumps, shoes that no self-respecting teacher I know of would bother with in a third grade classroom today. I can still hear her laugh, see how she disciplined with her eyes, and feel her encouragement.
When my parents would invite our teachers to dinner at our house once a year, we kids would hide out of view on the second floor landing. We’d poke our heads through the stair rail posts in order to eavesdrop on the adult conversation below. I think I wanted to know if Mrs. Rainier loved me as much as I loved her. To hear such a sentiment spoken would cause any nine-year-old to shiver.
In my early years of ministry, I thought teaching was mostly about delivering knowledge and insight to other heads. The passion or dispassion in the room didn’t matter as much as the critical transfer of vital information meant for other peoples’ cranial cavity. I assigned little emotional value to the teaching or the learning.
But then, I began to mature. I started to recognize that I learn the most from teachers whom I actually love(d). Isn’t this true for you too? Never mind the IQ or schooling a teacher may bring to a setting. It’s the relational bond that matters most. Oftentimes we navigate complex subjects by having our social brains connect and synchronize well with our teachers’ social brains. The way they process excitement, curiosity, confusion, worry, and delight affects the way their students do.
We learn best from people whom we love. Parents who want to teach their children something that their kids will eagerly retain eventually discover that they achieve the best results when they do it through and with love. Such is the truth for families, congregations, and for our lives in general. Think about all those whom you have loved, and learned well from as a consequence. And then, be that love for others who are eager to learn from you.