Is this love?

Anne Stonehouse poses the question whether educators should describe as ‘love’ the relationships they have with children.  She is dubious about the phrase ‘I just love children’ as often used by educators in interviews. She argues that respect is more the issue than love.

I agree that ‘I just love children’ should be treated with caution. It is often a thoughtless, throwaway line, produced to avoid thinking of a more careful answer.

But I do not think ‘love’ is an inappropriate term for what we do. Educating young children is emotional work. It involves forging genuine relationships. It involves deep personal bonds.

Family love is, of course, different. We do not love the children we work with in the same way we love our own children.

And yet.

Love is unconditional. Love is supportive. Love is a deep commitment to a relationship with that person.  Isn’t that what we aim for in our relationships with children?

We do – we must – have a deep commitment to each child we teach. When we do our best work, I think perhaps ‘love’ is the most appropriate word to describe the strength of the bond we have with that child.

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