Education As a Right; Equity Through Love (by Guest Blogger Nichole Martin)

butterflyI thoroughly enjoyed reading “Stand Up For Children” by Marian Wright Edelman, published in Paul Loeb’s book The Impossible Will Take a Little While.  In my opinion, education is not a privilege; it is a right.  It’s a right for every child in every city, borough, hood, suburb and slum.  It is a right because I believe that the power of education can affect the difference of a child’s life as does the flap of a butterfly’s wings can affect climate change.

Likewise, if education is a right, then educating is our responsibility.  The buck stops with you and me, to ensure that every child has the access to the education that can change their lives.  My educational pedagogy is embedded in the belief that I cannot teach a child that I do not love.  It truly is that simple.  I believe that the difference between the United States’ educational system and those of neighboring countries is simply that we do not love our neighbor’s children as our own.  Essentially, we’ve lost sight of the “it takes a village to raise a child” mentality, and for that, our survival is grim.

I had the pleasure of witnessing the birth of a friend’s baby last year.  A mother’s love is said to be the most unbreakable earthly bond.  As a I watched this new mother love on her infant son, I marveled at how instant that love was.  It dawned on me that this infant had done nothing to earn his mother’s love.  He simply gained that love because he was hers, because she labored to deliver him and because he was so easy to love as an extension of her.  In her opinion, he was perfect and without blemish.  I watched her lean down to kiss his face before the nurses cleaned him off; that was love.  I watched her not wanting to let his tiny fingers go when the nurses carried him away; that was love.  I watched her nurse him after 33 hours of labor because she knew he needed to eat; that was love.  And I watched her grimmace in pain as he tried to learn to nurse, but she kept on feeding; that was love.

The thought began to form: What if I loved my students as if they were mine?  What if I loved them to learn?  A mother will do anything in her power to ensure that her child has everything it needs.  What if I loved my students in that way?  Could failure or lack of resources or lack of funding prevent me, the teacher, from doing everything in my power to help them succeed?  Could corporations, banks, bailouts, the top one percent or government prevent me, the community member, from volunteering, donating my money or speaking up when I witness injustice?

If I loved your child as I love my own, could I allow the comfort of what I do not need to keep me from advocating for what you might?  If I loved your child as my own could I truly go to sleep at night knowing that the justice they so anxiously deserve is within my reach?  I don’t believe that I could.  In fact, I believe everything that is wrong with this system hinges on the lack of love we have one towards another.  We allow race, class, gender, religion and ultimately privilege separate us.  Shame on us all.

I think about the Civil Rights Movement and I’m in awe of their resolve.  What made them different from us today?  How could a movement, which faced such adversity prevail?  The answer, is love.  I think when, and IF, we ever decide to love our children as our own, our problems will fix themselves because it will become our responsibility to fix them.  No longer will we fund wars before education.  No longer will we allow property value to determine who deserves access and who does not.

My favorite scripture (and words to live by) are: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13: 34-35

Imagine a world where we loved our children in this way.  Imagine if we loved our elderly and those with differences or special needs?  Imagine.


7 thoughts on “Education As a Right; Equity Through Love (by Guest Blogger Nichole Martin)

  1. First of all: very nicely written.
    Not to be a pessimist or anything, just to play devil’s advocate: do you think that this world you’ve described is possible or likely?
    Furthermore, do you really believe that the reason education seems to have succeeded in other countries is because teachers love their students as though they were their own children? because foreign voters love their neighbors children as they love their own?
    Like I mentioned above, you’ve painted a very compelling picture here. I’m just not sure I agree with the sentiment that the only way to effect change in education is by the entire nation simultaneously experiencing a complete paradigm shift. I’d like to believe that reason and political action can be the catalyst for reform.

  2. Beautifully written with some wonderful thoughts. Like Bradley touched on in his comment above, is this perfect harmony with our neighbors possible? The root of many problems always seems to come down to greed at the expense of others.

    • What a lovely piece that you have written. While I agree with you on many levels, I wonder if it is possible, like the others, to have a reasonable expectation that everyone can come together and love. Although, I think you may have a point because it really only takes a few people to come together to make a change In the Civil Rights Movement, as you mentioned, everyone didn’t agree or come together in love, but there were enough people that cared to make a difference in the world that we take for granted today. The same can be said for education. We need to care about others in general enough to want to spend money or give away the same rights. There are many issues that have this at the root, I think.

  3. I agree that genuinely caring about individual children as well as the youth of the world on the whole is one of the most important qualities to a successful teacher but I sincerely doubt that we could actually staff schools with exclusively these people. That many caring individuals, to the level you are talking about don’t exist, or rather, are working in various other equally important jobs. With your stance in mind how do you feel about a hypothetical education system in which we have enough money to make teaching a highly competitive field based on incredibly high wages (think Wall-Street money)?As much as I want good, kind people teaches America’s youth I have to say that where their education is concerned I would probably move in favor of paying teachers enough that they want to do a good job in order to keep that paycheck. Lots of the world’s best doctors don’t care about their patients to the degree we all probably wish they do but I feel confident that the majority of doctors have the skill-set necessary to do their job as good or better than their most empathetic and loving peers.

    • Nichole,
      This is very beautifully written and I’m sure represents the passion that numerous educators feel about their students. However, I think that Kyle raises some very relevant and realistic points. I believe that a career as a teacher is far too often a back-up plan for some people, and that more teachers than we would like to accept just are not as motivated and passionate as we may think they should be. Part of this is, as Kyle mentioned, a lack of decent pay. I think another factor is that teachers unions are giving mediocre educators job security that they do not deserve. I think the comparison to the profession of a doctor is a really good way to look at it. Let’s not pretend that, in the capitalistic society that we live in, money is not an effective motivation for doing well at your job. If we were able to value teachers in our society in the same way that we value other jobs, and reward them with better pay, we could maybe start tackling the issue of inadequate educators.

  4. I think perhaps there needs to be more emphasis on training our teachers before they are allowed to teach our children. I would love to become a teacher in the future, yet every master’s program I have seen seems to have an emphasis on being a quick 11 month degree that will get you in and out there to teach kids. Even programs such as Teach for America that are geared towards helping kids in poverty are getting students with a degree in any field and training them for only 5 weeks before they start. I think that teachers could be given more training and more experience before getting a license to teach. Perhaps, on top of more training, there could be a more well-rounded training approach such as child development training or classes in psychology to allow the teacher to be better prepared for the students and perhaps have a better understanding and empathy for them as well. If not all teachers Love their students, then at least I hope they could have more empathy for them and this in turn could help our students more.

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