About fifty years ago, one of my aunts fell madly in love with a struggling artist. Young as they were, they wanted to get married and explore the world together. Unfortunately, this never happened because her mom didn’t let her. Oh, don't get me wrong, her mother genuinely wanted the best for her, and according to The Good Mother’s Manual, money is an essential ingredient of a happy and long-lasting marriage, and let’s not forget that this guy had no money. What were they supposed to eat? Love?
But, in spite of her noble intentions, her mom’s disapproval made her miserable. A few years later, my aunt married someone “approved” by her mother: a professional, someone with a bright future. Well, let me tell you, my aunt’s future was anything but bright. She waited thirty years, until the last of her sons got married, to file for divorce.
The reason why I am telling you this story is because it is very similar to my own story. When I was nineteen, I also fell madly in love with an artist, yes, a struggling artist. (You know the profile: long hair, no money, no job, etc.)
Zentellita, my beloved mom, could have thought that marrying a poor artist was a mistake, and not just any mistake, but the biggest mistake of my life. But, you know what, she let me do it anyway. She let me decide for myself, and for that, among other many things, I will be eternally grateful to her. Marrying my husband, twenty years ago, turned out to be no mistake, but, exactly the opposite, it was the wisest decision I’ve ever made.
Zentellita was (is) a smart woman. She knew as I know now that imposition, no matter how well-intended it is, simply doesn’t work. She taught me, with her example, that intentions –good, bad, or ugly- by themselves are just not enough. Whenever we want to “help” or “show our love” to any human being, respecting the person's ideas, as well as his or her free will, becomes crucial. We can’t impose our own point of view of what we think is best for them, or what we think they need, regardless how much we love them, because we might be wrong.
Translating this into the education environment, let’s not impose our teaching upon our students, let’s not marry them to the wrong content or idea(s). On the contrary, let’s respect them by allowing them to explore, to search, to choose by themselves, to think on their own, to believe in their intuition, to follow their dreams, to interact, and to marry whomever they want, and, when that happens, let’s clink glasses and make a sweet toast to free will and free learning. Cheers!