Wednesday, December 15, 2021

"The Opposite Of Love Is Not Hate, But Power"


"You need power only when you want to do something harmful, otherwise love is enough to get everything done." ~Charlie Chaplin

As a younger teacher, I spent a lot of time reading about the education of young children. That's how I came to learn about such child-centered models as Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf (Steiner), and democratic free schools. It's how I came to know the foundational ideas of Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky, and more contemporary thinkers like like Bev Bos, John Holt, and Mister Rogers. But to get to those ideas I had to reject most of what of passes in our profession as "best practices."

"The opposite of Love is not hate, but power." ~C.S. Lewis

What I've come to reject is the idea of adult-centered learning. What I've rejected is the idea that adults must somehow control children in order for them to learn. What I've rejected are approaches that place adult power over children at the center instead of love for children. 

"They fear love because it creates a world they can't control." ~George Orwell

Any model that starts with a curriculum devised by adults "for their own good" is about power over children, not love.

Any model that values tidiness and order under the rubric of "classroom management" is about power instead of love.

Any model that assumes that children will learn little of importance without "teaching" is about power.

"In order to get power and retain it, it is necessary to love power; but love of power is not connected with goodness, but with qualities which are the opposite of goodness, such as pride, cunning, and cruelty." ~Leo Tolstoy

You know you are reading about power when the sentences begin with "Have the children (do this or that) . . ." or "Get the children to . . ." or "Tell the children . . ." These are statements of command, the hallmark of every method that relies upon power.

"When love rules power disappears. When power rules love disappears." ~Paulo Coelho

Methods based upon power can be identified by their rigid schedules, both daily and developmental, in which everyone must constantly worry about "falling behind."

Power predominates in places where adults seek to prepare children for some future life rather than allowing them to live the life they are living.

"Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other." ~Carl Jung

Love does not dictate; love does not manage; love does not need tricks and tips for manipulating children. Love is about connection. It is about relationships. It is about listening. It is about acceptance. It is about this unique and beautiful person. As Mister Rogers wrote, "To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now." That is where child-centered learning begins. Love does not prepare children for life because to love someone is to know that they are already, right here and now, living.

"Love is the opposite of power. That's why we fear is so much." ~Gregory David Roberts

When we place children at the center of their own learning, listening to them, understanding them, and loving them, we are creating a bulwark against power. Through a curriculum based upon love we set children free to think, which is, in the end, the only place real learning happens and where, frankly, the spark of revolution is possible. In a world that values power over love, that can be a frightening thing.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix


If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here! 
"Few people are better qualified to support people working in the field of early childhood education than Teacher Tom. This is a book you will want to keep close to your soul." ~Daniel Hodgins, author of Boys: Changing the Classroom, Not the Child, and Get Over It! Relearning Guidance Practices

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