In October 2021, the University of Michigan hosted a panel discussing Critical Digital Pedagogy. Moderated by Jesse Stommel, the panelists included Sean Michael Morris, Ruha Benjamin, and Martha Fay Burtis. In that discussion, Martha made a comment about wanting to say she loves her students, but that she’s not always comfortable using that specific term. Her comment stood out to me because of the honest vulnerability it implied, as well as its invocation of a term not often used in education but one we’ve published here on Hybrid Pedagogy in terms of peer review, classroom environments, and even “the Google.”
But those articles don’t directly address the hesitance Martha expressed over the use of the word “love”. In this episode of Teacher of the Ear, she discusses her concerns and shares her thoughts about feeling love toward those we work with. She frames her thinking in the context of a pedagogy of care, turning the traditional authority- and expertise-focused education model on its head. Martha views loving students as a situation that involves giving students freedom and flexibility while changing the nature of the work done in our classes. She explains how we need to change classroom work and not simply offload it onto students. That change, then, also entails setting limits for ourselves to avoid burnout. Care for ourselves and caring for students is all connected because at the heart of it, isn’t teaching really a labor of love?