Have you ever had to experience a lecture by someone who did not care about you? How about learn by someone that did not love you? For a vast majority, I will presume your answer is yes. I would venture to say that most people have had to learn something, sit through a speech or lecture at some point in their lives by someone that did not know or care about them. This is no big deal for most. I certainly do not expect a speaker at the podium to love me. Frankly, I might find that weird. What if, however, I am the recipient of knowledge from the same lecturer on an almost daily basis for a week? They may not love me, but I would hope get to know me a bit better. If that lecturer or teacher was attempting to educate me on a daily basis for a month, my mastery of the material will be heightened as well as the hope that the teacher would value my input about the subject at hand. I would hope that the instructor would wish to build a pupil-teacher relationship that was mutually respectful. If I had to experience a teacher-student dynamic that lasted more than a month, I would demand, at the minimum, a teacher's attempt to empower my active participation. If I know that the teacher respected and cared for my input, I can pretty much guarantee growth and contribution to the content.
Now, imagine a child that sees their teacher on an almost daily basis over the course of the school year. If that teacher fails to express genuine care and respect for their student, the student will likely be unengaged. The student may actually display behavioral issues because he/she does not care about the learning, the teacher or the classmates. In no way do I condone outright poor choices, however, I wonder, what, if any, positive relationship the student has had with their teacher. Is it nurturing? Is it welcoming and inclusive? Does the student feel valued? Is the teacher exercising a pedagogy of care and love? As zen as it sounds, a teacher-student dynamic in the classroom can significantly improve the learning environment when an authentic sense of love or care exists between students and teacher. I understand that there are circumstances when students dismiss, reject or simply do not care about learning nor take any ownership over their learning, which creates a barrier in building an encouraging connection. But, I do think it is much more the exception than the norm. Generally, kids want to learn and want to be an active participant in their learning. When we express that we care for the young minds in front of us, when we engage or empower them in opportunities to intellectually develop, when we show them that we care and love for their well-being, students can and will flourish.