To continue this discussion with the professor:

        "If you're telling me I have to love each student unconditionally,"  
this professor cynically exclaimed, "that's impossible!  Too many students 
haven't earned it and don't deserve it, and I won't do it!"

        "No," I answered, "faith, hope, and love are emotions.  I'm not one to 
order you around.  In fact, I know it would be silly and pointless of me to 
think I could 'command' you to feel that way.  Anyone who has been told to 
'cheer up' in a bad time knows that.  Heck, administrators don't know that you 
can receive policy statements from on high, for example, about receiving, 
embracing, and retaining students from now until the proverbial cows come home, 
but the thinning out "keeper of the gate" or "weeder" mentality and actions are 
still there and won't automatically disappear in a puff.  I do, however, ask 
that you suspend your cynicism or resistance for a moment and 'lend me your 
ears'  because there's a value in discussing the role of love in the 

        "I'm saying that from reading thousands of student daily journal 
entries so many students feel that our classrooms are lions' dens in which most 
professors don't really care about them.  I'm talking about how student 
self-belief has been weakened in those dens.  I'm even talking about 
humiliation heaped upon by those self-appointed 'guardians' and 'weeders.'  I 
personally know what it is like to be alone, to be lonely, to be a stranger, to 
go unnoticed, to feel unloved, to feel devalued, to feel unworthy, to hurt 
within, to have weakened self-esteem and self-confidence.  I know how all that 
is a corrosive and disbelieving "what's the use" drag on motivation to perform 
and achieve.  I know what that's all like.  I know what it looks like.  I know 
what it feels like.  I know.  So, constantly being aware and alert to that, 
recognizing that, knowing that, and especially remembering that, I don't do it! 
 That's all.  I....just....don'!  That's the whole of my 
educational philosophy right there.  It should be the whole of higher education 
right there.   So, what does love had to do it, with higher education?  
Everything.  What would happen to academia, if we all prioritized to love and 
nourish each Billy; if we nourished that "I will be there for you" faith and 
hope and love, and all they embodied; if we did it; if we kept away the 
selective gate keeping; if we nourished a weeding out of weeding out?   If we 
created a movement, I call SML:  "Students' Lives Matter" that stood for the 
unconditional respect, value, sacredness, uniqueness, and worthiness of each 
student, that shined positive rays of light of lovingkindness, loving 
awareness, loving attentiveness, loving alertness, and loving mindfulness in 
the world of both the student and teacher, that generated a genuine smile, a 
friendly word, a soft encouraging touch, a slight supportive glance.  Now, that 
would be a different academia."

        "I'm saying that the classroom has been stripped of its humanity.  It 
focuses on the outward stuff of subject, skill, testing, grading, etc.  It 
doesn't focus on the inward driving, motivating, and inspiring stuff of the 
heart.  It isn't concerned with such questions as 'Who am I?' 'What am I 
feeling?'  'Who do I believe I can become?'  None of that.  It has become 
droll, materialized, 'thingified,'  as a matter of course (pun intended) for 
acquiring credentials required by job and status.  I'm saying academics have to 
address the human condition and not just be concerned with the subject matter.  
I'm saying we have to stop thinking about the class as something monolithic and 
wrap our hearts around the truth that students bring into the world of the 
classroom a world of diverse stories containing their different experiences and 
histories, that the real diversity in the classroom is that it is a gathering 
of separate, distinct and unique 'ones.'  I'm saying academics have to learn 
how to see, listen, and speak simultaneously in universalities and 
individualities.  I'm saying that by ignoring character development, we have 
left many students unprotected, that the gate keepers and weeders are refusing 
to search for the potential in people as they could become and are giving up on 
them because of who they presently are.  I'm saying in too many classrooms you 
can almost hear Toni Morrison say, 'They don't love our children.'  At the same 
time, I'm saying we have control over our internal lives and can choose to 
disparage or love, to knock down or up-lift, to dishearten or inspire.  No one 
makes you or me do anything without our active or passive permission."

        I went on to tell her that for me faith, hope, and love created a 
hunger, hunger for purpose and meaning and vision.  It gave me a thirst to help 
a student become a good person simultaneously--not instead of or at the expense 
of--to becoming a good student who will graduate to live the good life while 
having a good job.  For me, faith, hope, and love are not antithetical with 
becoming informed and skilled, but they are at the heart (pun intended) of the 
people serving business we call education.  They all--all--are important to the 
redemptive foundation of SLM.  I told her that as I acquired an educational 
philosophy of unconditional faith, hope, and love for each student, as it 
entered my bones, it offered beautiful hindsight, insight, and foresight for 
the intellectual and character up-lifting and up-building of each student.  It 
forged my vision.  It wrote my "TEACHER'S OATH."  It inscribed my "TEN 
COMMANDMENTS OF TEACHING."  It gave me a bridging community "we" sight that 
filled in the separating and differentiating chasm between "I" and "them" 
sight.  It insisted on always seeing and hearing the angel walking before each 
student proclaiming, "Make way!  Make way!  Make way for someone create in the 
image of God."   It said, "I will not follow anyone's orders to disrespect any 
student.  No one will coerce me into believing any student is disposable.  I 
will not submit to anyone's demand that I believe any student is not essential. 
 No one will force me to accept that each student is bereft of a unique 
potential.  No one will convince me to give up on or write the obituary for any 

        I finished by telling her, "As a result, as I thought and felt 
differently, over the decades, as I developed a vision of purpose and meaning 
by which to live, I found real and reasonable ways to do things differently, to 
merge the traditional with the new into a human wholeness.  And, I consequently 
I jumped out of bed each morning with a "yes," recited my TEACHER'S OATH, and 
entered each class each day with great expectations.  Rare, very rare, 
extraordinarily rare, was the time I was disappointed."

        Still more later.

Make it a good day


Louis Schmier                                 
203 E. Brookwood Pl               
Valdosta, Ga 31602 
(C)  229-630-0821                             /\   /\  /\                 /\    
                                                      /^\\/  \/   \   /\/\__   
/   \  /   \
                                                     /     \/   \_ \/ /   \/ 
/\/  /  \    /\  \
                                                   //\/\/ /\    \__/__/_/\_\/   
 \_/__\  \
                                             /\"If you want to climb 
mountains,\ /\
                                         _ /  \    don't practice on mole 
hills" - /   \_

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