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52 Ways to Show I Love You - Teaching

We can express love through teaching skills, information, perception, savvy.

Source: cuncon/Pixabay

When I think of the people I have loved — and whose love I have treasured — I am always impressed by how much so many of them have taught me. My husband has taught me everything from the fact that eating butter is not sinful to how to tie my shoes securely (a lesson he learned from his beloved “second” mother during a Junior Year in France), to when it is okay to show compassion and indulgence for myself.

My own students have taught me through their individual passions and curiosity, the examples of their exemplary lives, and their personal feedback that helped me learn to teach them more effectively. My children and grandchildren have taught me how to embrace their uniqueness and their need to continually grow and change and that each person shows their love in a very personal and individually meaningful way. My dearest friends have shown love by teaching me loyalty, compassion, generosity.

Yet it took insight from a granddaughter’s middle school assignment to help me appreciate the extent to which showing — and being shown — love through teaching has defined the source of others’ attachment to and affection for me. Little did I realize that our hours together quilting, exploring or talking would become reference points for her as she grew. We have such powerful ways to show love as we teach and learn from one another!

What do we teach?

  • Skills. When David corrects my French, he does it to help me become a more effective communicator with our friends in Paris. When I insisted my children cook with me, I wanted them to enjoy providing sustenance for themselves and others they loved when they were older. I wanted this basic activity to bring them pleasure and opportunities to create. When my mentors taught me ways to ask good questions and consider ways to answer them through a research project, they helped further the love I felt for our discipline. In passing along gifts or mastery, we show love; in receiving it, we recognize love.
  • Information. We can show love by providing information or ways to access it. At times, information can be practical — what route best takes us from here to there? How can I post a photograph on a social media account? — and at times it can simply deepen our appreciation. For example, learning the history of a piece of art helps it inspire me more completely. Seeing Zadkine’s debt to Rodin expressed through his own sculpture helps me appreciate it more fully.
  • Ways to manage a situation. Among the most helpful things a loved one can teach us is how to manage a particular kind of situation. By watching someone disagree gracefully and respectfully with those they love, we learn life lessons of enormous value. When a loved one takes the time to sit quietly with someone in pain, we learn a powerful means to express compassion.
  • Perceptions. A loved one can demonstrate alternate ways of seeing another person or evaluating a situation. The examples they set allow us to practice flexibility and to better learn how to learn.

How do we show love through teaching?

  • By example. Our appreciation of the power of example — “modeling” — has exploded since Albert Bandura’s experiments in the 1970’s led to improved understanding of how much we learn through observation.
  • KeithJJ/Pixaby
    Source: KeithJJ/Pixaby

    By demonstration. A step more active than silent modeling, demonstrations help us learn through presenting sequential steps in a process. “Shaping” behavior also teaches effectively, especially when the learning involves multiple aspects.

  • By instruction. Directions remain an efficient route to learning many skills, processes, and procedures.
  • By finding another example. Everything from parallel examples to abstract metaphors can help illustrate a teaching and thus reinforce it.
  • Through repetition (and knowing when to stop). Early learning theorists documented the value of repetition. But today we also know how annoying and counterproductive it can become. By tuning into the “sweet spot” of another’s responses to our iterations, we can maintain stimulation (and thus regulate anxiety) at optimal levels for learning. Both too much and too little interfere with the process.
Source: KeithJJ/Pixaby

Why does teaching show love?

  • Faith in the loved one. Taking the time to teach demonstrates faith that the loved one is able to learn. By definition, learning means taking on something that is new. Some people are quick studies; others require more patience. Although people of various temperaments also vary in their willingness to encounter novelty, if we love them we show a sensitivity to what level of stimulation allows them to learn and at what point they become overwhelmed. We take on the responsibility of helping them learn.
  • Useful skills can last a lifetime. By teaching someone we love, we help them expand their repertoire of ways to think, feel and respond. Thus it is a gift that can bring a lifetime of benefits to them as the world changes and requires new responses. The love we showed through our teaching can thus last long after we are gone.
  • Teaching offers sharing opportunities. Sharing an activity that is useful or pleasant or reflects understanding is a wonderful way to show love, as previously discussed.

Who taught you lessons that you treasure? How did they teach you? When do you remember those lessons? Who have you taught, in what ways and to what ends? Are there any teachings you still yearn to share? In what ways does your love for someone direct how you teach him or her?

Copyright 2017 Roni Beth Tower

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