Unconditional care!

Multiple ways to build capacity to care

Caring unconditionally for another is hard to do.  It is harder to do for every student in a class of 25 students.  Failing with one means that you fail with them all, every other student sees your behaviour and, consciously or not, thinks that could have been me.

Those who can do this with every child in a class (and in every class that they teach) become memorable to us, they have a lifelong impact.  Only about 5% of educators do that now with every child (which translates into the average, successful adult experiencing two such educators during their own schooling).


But this is a learnable skill.In the past learning it was happenstance – having a particular family background, being close to such an educator, having an appropriate mentor – but the mainstream focused on applying conditional care as reward and punishment.

Learning to apply unconditional care can be approached from several directions.

The gradual adoption of feedback from students is one, learning to manage your own red zone is another, leaders in a school modelling this behaviour to their staff is a third.

A process, an individual practice and social interaction.

As this is hard to do, following all three tracks makes sense.  Building autonomous motivation in students is the key to 21st century skills and the students’ future success.

John Corrigan