I really treasured soaking in the wisdom of the three Tlingit elders- Selina Everson, Linda Belarde, and David Katzeek- today. Because I grew up on the East Coast/in the Midwest, I still have much to learn about Tlingit culture. Experiences such as today teach me so much about the wonderful Alaska Native beliefs.
In addition to learning more about this culture (such as more of its language and views of gender and elders), I took away many nuggets from the elders’ talks. I want to focus on one golden nugget that really stuck with me and even affected the way I approached teaching my group cello lesson directly after class. I also hope it will continue to inform my teaching for the rest of my career. This nugget is one that David spoke of toward the end of the talk: the idea that we are all desperate for love.
David alluded to this topic during his talk on Monday when he spoke of needing to love ourselves in order to love others. However, he offered it with a beautiful metaphor today: “If love is food, we are starving.”
If love is food, we are starving. That is powerful. This statement applies to every human being. We all desire and crave love, and it is no different for our students. Our students seek affirmation, care, and investment- from their parents, their peers, and from their teachers. When we recognize this need for love, we treat our students differently. All of a sudden, the student who seemed to be acting out just to ruin our day is looked at with a sense of compassion, and the possibility that the student is lacking love from a key figure in their life may be entertained as a factor of their misbehavior. And when a student struggles to understand a concept, we are led to guide them through with patience and empowerment.
I think that this truth should affect every interaction we have with humans. It reminds us that we are all imperfect humans with hopes, dreams, baggage, and fears. A little more indulgent love never hurts.