I have been immensely privileged in my upbringing. I have had financial security, political security, physical security. All of Maslow’s basic needs fulfilled.
But my greatest privilege;
I have been loved.
From the moment I was conceived I have had doting parents, protective older brothers, adoring grandparents and an army of protective, loving relatives and friends who have made sure that I never lacked this vital emotional sustenance.
It is easy to forget just how much of an advantage this can bring to an individual.
But just think:
Every step was applauded. Every sound echoed, shaped and modelled into a word with loving patience. Every heart wrenching cry comforted by loving arms.
Every bruised knee kissed better, every tear wiped away. I was given permission to grow and learn and fail within the security of the greatest safety net of all: love.
Some do not get this. As a teacher I have connected with young people who learned never to show you’re hurt, never to rely on others. I have seen humans so starved of this one, fundamental necessity that they do not believe it when it is finally shown to them.
I have taught children who would flinch when an adult raised their voice. Kids who would zone out the minute they were criticised because they were never taught that it’s ok to fall down.
My privilege meant that I entered the school system with a force field around the core of who I was. Whatever happened I KNEW I was loved. So I could take the knocks and the bullying, the failure and frustration because ultimately I was going to be ok. I learned because I had space to learn and safety that allowed me to let learning in.
If you are fighting every second of the day to protect yourself, and your belief in adults is that they leave you, hurt you, ignore you, berate you….. where is the space to learn?
We must start with the basics.
Trust. Love. Respect. Empathy. Kindness.
This is an educational process too. It is one that is essential for every human.
Does this only happen in primary?
Ask yourself this….. does trauma only happen in primary? Does abandonment and abuse only happen in primary?
As teachers we are “in loco parentis”. We are the ones providing the core support structure. To educate without taking into account deficiencies of love, safety, stability etc. is like trying to pour coffee in to a colander. The missing pieces are too many. These must be provided for firstly. For as long as it takes.
This is more important than grades. More important than spelling, handwriting, Maths or English. Those things have their value and are useful but only to someone who is ready to embrace them and use them.
So, what’s love got to do with it?
Everything. All you need is love. Love is a many splendid thing! It MUST be love.
Pour love onto your learners. Watch them grow in the security that you provide.
It may seem wishy washy and liberal to some… to them I say:
“it is not love, but lack of love which is blind” (Glenway Westcott).