Mushyness alert!!! You were warned!
I started my teaching in a high school, and was told, time and time again, by people I thought of as good teachers that I needed to love my students. After my first year of horror, in which I was suffering too much OTSD (on-going traumatic stress disorder) to feel anything other than fear, I learned to love. For years after that, I resisted all suggestions that I should consider working in higher ed, because I valued my relationships with my students in high school and I was certain that love didn’t have a place in higher education classrooms.
But I am starting to think that actually, while it’s harder to feel the love in higher ed classrooms, it’s just as important that matters of the heart influence our choices in higher ed classrooms as it is in primary or secondary schools.
Partly because of “teaching” (or as I prefer to think about it, designing learning experiences for) people who are peers and colleagues and friends, I’m thinking more and more about matters of the heart in the classroom. I could talk about this issue as a matter of power (taking it safely back into the head space) but power only captures one part of the story. Discourses of power fail, for me, to capture matters of affection and care. This morning I came across two texts that really nudged me to put head-heart integration back on my to think about list. One was a post by Elena Aguilar, titled “What I wish I’d known as a new teacher”. The other was Tia Henricksen’s blog post “Intellectual Virtues”. I really like the 6 Intellectual virtues Tia refers to:
- Love of knowledge
- Firmness of hold over knowledge
- Courage and caution – facing fears/taking risks
- Intellectual humility
- Intellectual autonomy
- Intellectual generosity
I have an Edward Monkton mug that I love. Inside the mug it says: “Sometimes the HEART should FOLLOW the MIND Sometimes the HEART Should tell the MIND to STAY AT HOME and STOP INTERFERING”
I am starting to think that perhaps what higher education needs is a good shot of heart – compassion, generosity, love, humility.