My daughter is an amazing teacher. There, I’ve said it. She just is. She teaches English and has a background in the classics and Latin. But the magic she brings to the classroom is only partially attributed to her scholarly knowledge and academic thirst for learning.
Her success is due to something she inherited from me, I’m happy to say, and God only knows where I got it from. As a child I always felt like I was never enough. But as I grew, I did know one thing: I knew that through the process of raising children I would learn what I needed to know to grow as a successful human.
Talking with my daughter today, my daughter who has been teaching for 22 years, I realized what makes her such a magical teacher: she sees the potential of each child. Kids work very hard for her because she conveys to them that hard work is how we learn. And when we do our best, we grow. And it’s worth the internal struggle with setting challenges for ourselves.
But they enlist in the “school of Jenny” because she sees each child as someone special, someone who will do great things, just as I saw my kids from the day they arrived on this planet. I don’t know why I did, but I did. I had a deep confidence in them and knew that if I hovered around them with my support they would be good people who did great things.
I don’t understand the fear parents have around success. And while some may say it is my white privilege talking, I have seen parents in all walks of life display the same kind of total embracing of the “specialness” of their child in a way that lets them know, “You got this. It might be hard and I’m here for you, but you got this.”
Scientists like Louis Cozolino explain learning by describing our “social brain.” In other words, there is more than simply the task of learning. Learning happens in a relationship with others. Our brains evolved within communities dependent on one another. It’s hard for us in our “siloed” world to visualize the importance of relationships in the development of the brain, but it’s there. Before we learn, we connect with one another. Or as Cozolino would say, “We are not the survival of the fittest. We are the survival of the nurtured.”
So if you want your child to succeed, or if you want to become a really great teacher, I want you to know that all of the recommendations about “best schools, and best academic practices” will only get you half the way there. If you want children to succeed, begin with developing a strong relationship. It’s truly the only thing that matters.