Teaching with Love: A Feminist Approach to Early Childhood Education

Teaching with Love: A Feminist Approach to Early Childhood Education

Teaching with Love: A Feminist Approach to Early Childhood Education

Teaching with Love: A Feminist Approach to Early Childhood Education

Synopsis

Teachers commonly talk about loving their students, yet no effort has been made to explore the powerful educational potential inherent in these loving feelings. Teaching with Love breaks new ground by paying careful, scholarly attention to the nature, the scope, the dimensions, & the variety of teacherly love. In a highly readable narrative that builds on the feminist notion of an ethic of care & draws from the fields of psychology & women's studies, this book examines & analyzes the experiences of two primary grade teachers as they set about trying to create & enact a vision of early childhood education centered around loving relationships.

Excerpt

Teachers often speak about loving their students. "The little girl . . . was colorless and I didn't have very much feeling for her for a long time," one teacher reports. "Then all of a sudden when she began to make discoveries, her personality popped out and I loved her" (anonymous teacher cited in Jackson 1968/1990, 139). Anna Tiant, a teacher in an infant-toddler day care center, states plainly: "What's important to very young kids is to be loved, to be safe, to be cared for, and that's what I do. The toddler curriculum is a curriculum of love" (Tiant, cited in Ayers 1989, 24). My conversations with teachers in classrooms, staff rooms, faculty lounges, play yards, rest rooms, and parking lots at day care centers, preschools, and elementary schools around the country suggest that love for students is an underlying assumption of the practices of many, many early childhood teachers.

Teachers of older students also experience these loving feelings. Jaime Escalante, the well-known mathematics teacher depicted in the film Stand and Deliver, asserts: "I exhibit deep love and caring for my students. I have no exclusive claim to these attributes; they are as natural as breathing to most teachers" (1990, 9).

Academics, too, take teacherly love for students to be a commonplace of education. Bill Ayers (1989), for example, asserts that loving children is an essential qualification for preschool teachers, and that each young child has a right to be loved and understood in his or her school setting. Philip Jackson (1968/1990, 29) writes that "we know that a child's relationship with his teacher can at times rival in intensity the union between him and his mother and father," and notes that many of the teachers he spoke with while researching his landmark book Life in Classrooms revealed their deep affection for and emotional attachment to their students. In a recent address to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, CornelWest . . .

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