I keep seeing this image, or versions of it, pop up on Twitter and Facebook, especially in trauma-informed education circles. “Students who are loved come to school to learn, and students who aren’t, come to school to be loved.”
I know it’s “just a quote.” I know it’s well-intentioned. But I have some questions:
- Don’t all students want to learn? Aren’t all kids naturally curious?
- Don’t all kids (and people, really) want to be loved?
- Does this quote suggest that a teacher’s love and a parent’s love are the same thing?
- Do kids have a choice about why (or whether) they come to school?
- Are there really a whole lot of parents who don’t love their kids?
- What effect does it have on my teaching practice if I believe my students’ parents don’t love them?
- How does one tell the difference between a parent who doesn’t love their kids and a parent who loves their kid, but is overwhelmed or under-resourced and struggles to effectively parent?
- How does one tell the difference between a kid who is loved at home and who isn’t?
- Do loved kids always want to learn?
- Should I lower my academic expectations for “unloved” kids because they’re just here to be loved?
- Does trauma only happen to kids in “unloving” households?
- Does being loved at home affect motivation for learning?
- What am I, a teacher, supposed to do with this frame of understanding? How does it impact my practice?
- What would my students’ parents think if they saw me tweet or post this quote?
- Does this quote foster empathy or pity?
I hope you have some questions, too.
It’s “just a quote” but when we see enough of these quotes, they shape our worldview. Just like we teach our students: be critical. Ask questions. Don’t fall for pleasing sentence construction and confuse it with truth.