On love. - National Council of Teachers of English
Back to Blog

On love.

Green apple with heart shape.The following is an excerpt from Ernest Morrell’s Presidential Address at the 2014 NCTE Annual Convention.

What’s love got to do with it?


It’s a term that we do not like to talk about.

It’s not “science-y” like pedagogy which is a cool term because it’s got “o-g-y”.

The curriculum.
The lesson plans.
The amazing diverse literature that you put in someone’s hands, means nothing if you do not love them.

And think about what that means. What does that revolutionary love mean when it’s manifested by an English teacher?…That you believe in them.

That them failing is you failing.

You know, I think about this all the time. I have three children and I send my children to school and I don’t expect, you know, 6:30 in the morning that their love is going to be right here and then 9 o’clock in the morning it’s going to dip down here while I’m at work, and my wife’s at work.

You better love my children. Because they deserve it 24-7.

We don’t like to talk about this term, but think about it. You are operating in the public trust. The public trust.

How many hours do I leave my children with other people, expecting my children to feel loved in the same way as they would in their own home? I, like the parents of the other 50 million children who are in the school system.

Love has everything to do with it. It doesn’t work without love.

So it’s important for us to think about that and I will end with a quote from a dear mentor to me, Asa Hilliard. He said:

“I have never encountered any children in any group who are not geniuses. There is no mystery on how to teach them. The first thing you do is treat them like human beings and the second thing you do is love them.”