Circle of Love / Teaching With Love

Clemens, Sydney Gurewitz

CIRCLE OF LOVE. Amy C. Baker & Lynn A. Manfredi-Petit. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press, 1998. 144 pp. $15.95. TEACHING WITH LOVE. Lisa S. Goldstein. New York: Peter Lang, 1997. $29.95. Circle of Love opens a discussion that hitherto has been closeted, as far as I know: What is the role of love in family child care? How can parents and providers both love the child without succumbing to jealousy or competition? What happens to the children when the provider sacrifices love to some concept of professionalism that dictates emulating a classroom teacher, instead of a loving family member?

Baker and Manfredi-Petit interviewed some veteran child care providers who struggled with children’s attachment needs, as well as parents’ tendency not to see the caregiver as a person who loves their child. They report their findings in this groundbreaking book, telling lots of stories and displaying a commitment to the idea of child care being a place of warmth and children’s emotional growth. Give this book to a child care provider or a parent who is thinking about care for a young child. It just may make a difference!

Teaching With Love, which is the first volume from the “Rethinking Childhood” series, means to teach us about the role of love in the classroom, but I found it to be much more about how a teacher thinks self-critically. Goldstein’s self-reflection on classroom love is fascinating, yet inconclusive for the rest of us. Goldstein brings a feminist critique to bear on the issue of classroom climate, sprinkling marvelous quotations throughout the book that provoke us to thinkhard about our emotionsthose we show and those we hidewhen we care for young children.

Like Circle of Love, Teaching With Love raises the question, “Are emotions unprofessional?” While Baker and Manfredi-Pet go to caregivers for their answers, however, Goldstein relies on the best feminist theorists. One of the book’s shortcomings is Goldstein’s use of quotations from Anna Freud, Lilian Katz, and others in the education field, which are less convincing than her citations from the world of women’s rights. Goldstein has not found clear voices to support the right to a good, caring, joyous childhood.

Both of these books deal with the importance of separation from the child at the end of the teaching/ caregiving period, and how difficult that can be when a strong bond exists. The Circle of Love authors cite many instances of ongoing or recurring relationships between caregiver and family after the child has moved on to a different situation. The author of Teaching With Love draws very different conclusions, to wit: “Teacher love is shaped not only by the feelings of those involved, but also by the structure of the institutions in which it occurs.”

I cannot agree with this conclusion. I have seen many instances where the teachers commitment to the child was more powerful than the parents’ and would not conform to the shape of the institution. On the other hand, Goldstein says, and I agree wholeheartedly, that “As long as the distinctions [between teacherly love and motherly love] remain unexplored and unpublicized, conflict, tension, and discord between mothers and teachers is likely to continue unabated.”

I found both books tremendously thought-provoking, and urge others to read them. Reviewed by Sydney Gurewitz Clemens, Consultant and Workshop Facilitator, San Francisco, CA

Copyright Association for Childhood Education Fall 1998

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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