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Is Love Simply a Bonus?

Aaron Anderson, CEO/Head of School welcomes a student at the beginning of the school day.

Aaron Anderson, CEO/Head of School welcomes a student at the beginning of the school day.

There is one non-negotiable component so critical to a child’s growth and well being that we must name it explicitly instead of assuming its presence and practice. That component is love.

Love is vital to delivering a well-rounded education because love is foundational to the holistic development of healthy human beings. The famed American psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed that, after the very basic physiological and safety needs have been satisfactorily met for humans, the need for love emerges as a powerful shaping force. When love is withheld from a human, it is disastrous to his or her development. Maslow wrote, “In our society the thwarting of these needs (i.e. love) is the most commonly found core in cases of maladjustment and more severe psychopathology.” [1] Humans that are not loved are set on a trajectory toward personal brokenness that will inevitably spill over into community brokenness: violence, exasperated public health issues, unsafe neighborhoods, risky behavior, substance abuses, and a generational continuation of the lengthy list already noted.

In my less than two years of leadership at Logos Academy, my eyes have been opened to the complexity of urban education and the vital role love plays in our school culture. Logos Academy is a small urban, Christ-centered school in York, PA, that serves a student population of 250. Our student population is both ethnically and socioeconomically diverse. Our admissions policies do not discriminate on the faith or financial ability of families. Approximately 70% of our students live in, or dangerously near, the poverty line. Statistically, we know this means our very own students might be exposed on a daily basis to the harsh realities that negatively impact the healthy functioning of their brains and hearts.

As a school community, we are very aware that Logos Academy is much more than an academic institution. In partnership with parents, extended families, and religious communities, we are in the business of human formation. Therefore, we believe that a high quality education must be built on the foundation of love. Schools that fail to nurture a culture of love will fail to deliver meaningful, lasting success for urban students. At first glance, this thesis may not appear to be controversial, particularly insightful, or innovative. Yet, I am developing a growing awareness that educators and those that drive public policy and innovation too easily overlook the critical importance of love in education, especially in urban communities.

A cursory read of modern educational websites, papers, and journals is revealing. A great deal of emphasis is placed on common core, academic standards, test scores, the incorporation of STEM technology, and experimentation with mass customized learning. Debates are focused on the effectiveness of charter schools versus public schools, whether parents should be given vouchers to send their kids to private schools, the role of teacher unions, the crisis in funding teacher pensions, and whether control of public schools is best accomplished at a federal or local level. These important emphases and debates make a crowded space for educators to ponder and meditate on the vital importance of love in education.

Besides, what educator would dispute the idea that love is an important part of a good education? One author summarized the sentiment well, saying, “I don’t know of any school employee who doesn’t love children. This heartfelt emotion is not a government standard or requirement for work at a school district. It is simply a bonus to students and parents that most educators bring to school every day.” [2]

Yes, I agree, love in the classroom should be a given. But is that a safe assumption? At Logos Academy, the practice of love is foundational to our school culture. Our mission statement is explicit in our belief that “Logos Academy…is grounded in the love of Christ.” We don’t assume that our faculty and staff love kids; we expect it from them and hold ourselves to a high standard. Love is not a nice bonus to a high quality academic program. Love is the foundation.


[1] Maslow, A. H. A Theory of Human Motivation. Mansfield Centre: Martino, 2013. Print.

[2] Labor of Love, by Dave Arnold. Accessed on 2/22/2016 at http://www.nea.org/home/58490.htm

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