The key of keys.
If we look at it as deeply and radically as possible, the keys of education and all the tasks that come with it are summed up in one word: loving (loving well!), which is thus the “key of keys.” And with it are its two corollaries:
1. To learn to love without ever, ever – unlike what often happens – assuming that one already knows how.
2. And without imagining that we are going to achieve it by magic, without doing our part to be a better person, and thus being able to love more and better every day.
The keys to education are summed up in one word — loving (loving well!) — and in two corollaries that follow from it:
a) Learning to love, without ever assuming we already know how.
b) And being prepared for a constant effort to love better every day.
But what kind of love or loves are we talking about?
Real and authentic love
The first thing parents need in order to educate is a true love for their children:
to seek their good in an effective and efficient way, the good of each one of all those children.
According to G. Courtois, education requires, in addition to “a bit of learning and experience, a lot of common sense – and above all, a lot of love.” In other words, we need to master some pedagogical principles and act sensibly, but we should never assume it’s enough to apply a nice theory to get sure results. All of that would be insufficient without the indispensable element of an authentic and genuine love.
And this applies both to parents and to professional educators like teachers and professors.
Francisco Gómez Antón, a highly successful and experienced professor, was asked for the secret of his triumph in the classroom. He answered: “To give a good class, you have to do many things. The first is to love the students a lot.”
And what is said about a good class can be said just as much or even more of any teaching work, particularly the most strictly educational, or those focusing on personal formation. Both knowledge and the acquisition of virtues are greatly facilitated when we have a personal relationship with our students—and to an even greater degree, with our children. That is, insofar as we put ourselves intimately into our dealings with them and dedicate the time that each one needs, putting them before any other activity.
Only then do we love them with a real, intelligent, and vigorous love, which also makes educational work effective.
We have to love greatly
those we want to educate.
Why? Among many other reasons, because each boy or girls – precisely due to their condition as a person – is an absolutely unrepeatable reality, different from all the others. He or she is not one case among many. That is why no manual can explain to us how to handle that specific case.
We have to learn to adapt the principles about temperament, age, and the circumstances in which the kids live. And we have to bear very much in mind that something that could be appropriate and even essential for one of them could be all wrong in another moment or situation, even for the same child.
But only love allows us to know each of our children just as they are right now and act based on that knowledge. Even if we accept the part of truth in the saying “love is blind,” it is much deeper and more real to believe that love is keen, perspicacious, and clear-eyed. And that, when it comes to persons, only an authentic love allows us to know them in depth and deal with them as a result: personally.
Only love allows us to know each of our Children just as they are at each moment
and act effectively, based on that knowledge.
In fact, love is what will teach parents to put into practice one of the most important keys in all of education: what is often called “positive education,” whose fundamental principle consists in discovering – and, if necessary, writing out with their names, so that it is clear and so that parents can go over it as often as needed – the qualities that have to be fostered in each one of their children, instead of focusing and insisting in a monotonous, repetitive, and exclusive way on correcting their defects.
For example, it would be a good idea to know which of our children is most willing to take messages or accompany and care for a little sibling; which does better at household chores; which likes to help cook… to offer them the opportunity to do what they enjoy and that allows them to help the rest of the family.
To educate, it is essential to know each child’s qualities well.
In the same way, love will lead the parents to see:
♠ The need to adapt to the time and tempo of the children, especially the littlest: knowing that they live only in the present moment and that we shouldn’t overwhelm them with our worries about tomorrow or with the weight of past mistakes: they would not understand us and would only be confused. Hurrying and impatience, which so often dominate grown ups today, are the main enemy of education.
♠ The right time to play with the children or take an interest in their problems, without subjecting them to an interrogation, or to respect their need to be alone, to have their own space.
♠ The best time to be – in a more or less active way – and to disappear or not show that you are aware, to speak and to be silent.
♠ The occasions when it is good to “let them have their way” and “turn a bit of a blind eye” versus those times when we have to intervene decisively or even with lively resolve or a bit of faked aggression…
Love is clairvoyant: it allows us to discover the best response
to the beloved in every circumstance.
The issue of time is especially relevant: if we don’t know how to enter into the children’s time, we will have a hard time communicating with them, and our relationship with them will end up stunted.
Let’s think, for example, about the time when our kids have to go to bed. Normally, when we tell them it’s bedtime, we are burdened with the past; that is, with the tiredness of an entire day. And in our mind, we also have the future: that tomorrow we have to get them up early to get to school on time. But they are just playing, in the present, totally absorbed in what they are doing.
If we don’t realize that fact and we obligate them to drop everything and go to bed, they will not understand the meaning of our orders, so they will resist… and then the problems arise.
It is very good to act in an unhurried way, taking the time to connect with what they are doing. Once we are on the same wavelength, then we can make them see – with just as much decisiveness as kindness and affection – that it’s time to go to bed… and bring them affectionately but resolutely to bed, without vacillations.
We need to give each child the time he or she needs:
hurrying is the main enemy of education.
And, as I mentioned, in all of this difficult art, parents cannot delegate to anyone. We cannot achieve any of the above goals by leaving our children in the hands of the domestic help, nor of specialized caregivers, nor educational experts, much less last-generation computers and computer programs.
In the most proper and strict sense of the word, the father and mother are irreplaceable.
Only a father and a mother naturally have – if they know how to cultivate it – the capacity to crown with success that exciting adventure, in spite of the many screw-ups, discouragements, and stumbling, which are both inevitable and irrelevant when they take place in an atmosphere of authentic reciprocal love between the spouses and their shared love for the child.
And, by the same token, in addition to the father and the mother, there are also the persons who, truly loving our children, participate in our paternal and maternal condition. They, too, can intervene effectively in the education of our children.
In the children’s education, the father and mother are irreplaceable.
Conclusion: parents not sold
Just for a touch of humor, and as a contrast, there is the following anecdote.
A married couple who were very overwhelmed by their careers were looking in a toy store for a gift for their child. They were asking for something that would entertain him, keep him calm, and above all, take away his feeling of being alone.
A clever salesgirl told them:
“I’m sorry, but we don’t sell parents.”
Parents are not sold!
(to be continued)
4.Ten principles and one key to educate correctly:
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