A friend once told me that her job meant loving every person who entered her practice room. Her clients brought wounds and flowers, she loved them all. It made sense this four-letter word should be the mainstay of therapy, its natural pacemaker.
But a few weeks ago I was surprised to find that I had fallen in love with a school. A school? You may ask. Well not the building exactly. But the work, the place, its people, their process.
The building stands where the city’s edge meets jagged rock. Children from over 62 countries move from lesson to lesson without bells. The classes aren’t large.
I first taught there when I arrived in Muscat a couple of years ago . I remember overhearing two children discussing something. One of them asking the other:
That. Right there. The reason I love this school. Because I had never heard such a thing from a child in an educational establishment. From a fifteen year old.
Or the girl who came to find me during break time, to tell me they had sold out of the origami boxes I had liked and she was very sorry. Seven years old, from the elementary section.
And the student from Grade 9 who had defied me so beautifully. They were writing science fiction short stories.
‘Avoid,’ I had said ‘using the second person. It’s powerful but hard to do. I wouldn’t try it. Not yet.’
I should have seen her expression. Noticed her sit up when I suggested what ‘you’ might add to her words. The next day I received her story, it was directed entirely at its reader and its raw power brought tears to my eyes.
Another English teacher took me under her wing. Seeing I would need to learn a whole curriculum in a few days, she made herself available.
‘Just drop by,’
And I did, asking questions week after week until I got the gist of this half-taught unit another teacher had left for someone else to pick up.
Love sometimes is presence, for another.
The walls of the school have posters about the I.B. If you’ve every taught it or studied it you’ll know it’s rigorous and open, that students often emerge from the diploma caring consciously about the planet and its people. The posters use words like: integrity, diversity, willingness to take risks, caring, inquiry.
And it is these abstract nouns, I think, which grabbed my heart, in the actions of its purveyors, the children here, the staff.
How does love feature in your work? Please feel free to share your thoughts below….