NUMBER 237• 28 MARCH 2003 • UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
INDEX OF QUOTES
Working with children [these days] requires an endless supply of caring, concern, patience, enthusiasm, encouragement, sensitivity, and wisdom. There seems to be a never-ending parade of hurt, discouraged children who desperately need genuine affirmation of their worth. Many such children are afraid to risk trusting for fear of rejection. They may bond one day only to push away the next. They need at least one person in their lives whose message is: "I refuse to reject you despite your best efforts at making yourself unattractive, unconcerned, and unmotivated. I will not agree to see you as a person of little value even though you believe this of yourself. I don’t buy that. In this place, you can be successful, and I am tougher at insisting upon that than you are at insisting that you aren’t worth the effort. I may get frustrated, angry, and even enraged with you at times. I will need to take occasional vacations from you, but I am not now nor am I ever going to give up on you." This same attitude needs to be applied in working with groups of children and parents.
Take good emotional care of yourself. Be giving and loving to yourself so that you will have the strength it takes to really make an impact with kids. Most of all, be a "mensch" (someone who does the right thing because it is the right thing to do). Model and live respect and dignity for yourself and others ...
For some students and their parents, sustaining a caring, dignified approach can be overwhelming. Gordon Dorway, an inner-city teacher, shows what is needed to reach many of today’s students. After spending $150 on food for a barbecue at his house for his students and their families, of which fifteen attended, he said: "What can I say? What can I do? You can’t get angry. You can’t get upset." Despite feeling discouraged, Dorway plans to start making home visits and might even give another barbecue.
An essential attitude for today’s educator, especially when she is surrounded by overwhelming social circumstances that may make many with a caring heart feel hopeless, is noted by Viktor Frankl. This great philosopher, psychologist, and holocaust survivor has said: "In a place where there are no human beings… strive to be human."
Allen N. Mendler, (1992). What Do I Do when…? How to achieve Discipline in the classroom. Bloomington: National Education Service. pp 133-134