Differences and Similarities Between Parental and Educational Love

Without love, we die. With love, we prosper” (Graf & Seide, 2018).

The forms that love can take are as numerous as the multiple variational context of the word itself: parental love, romantic love, religious love, self-love, pedagogical love, sibling love, friendly love, partnership love; just to name a few. 

Nevertheless, we naturally venture to attempt to find a universal explanation to describe the phenomenon.  Love is a strong feeling, intimate and deep. It is a sense of connectedness and can be possibly considered as an attitude. Love is the desire to be together. Love expresses itself in care, devotion, affection and in self-esteem.

How children experience love shapes their ability to love, short and long-term. The kind of love that parents give to their children, of course, is different from the love an educational professional has. Educational love is sincere, but comparatively different than parental love. Parental love is considered the most unconditional form of love. An educational professional should take a deep interest in the developmental needs of the children in their care and while educational love can strongly affect a child’s positive development, it can never replace parental love and it is important for both educators and parents to fully understand this. 

There are certain factors that characterize a positive interpersonal loving relationship: 

  • Seeing the other person’s genuine self 

  • Pursuing a common goal 

  • Showing empathy 

  • Treating one another with dignity 

  • Being on the same page with one another 

  • Supporting one another in meeting needs 

  • Promoting authenticity and allowing one another to express feelings 

  • Respecting personal integrity 

  • Promoting self-efficacy 

  • Creating inner-balance 

  • Showing appreciation 

  • Building an intrinsic relationship 

  • Following instincts 

  • Providing a sense of inclusion 

  • Providing a feeling of security 

Love in the institutional context influences caring in education. The term “pedagogical [educational] love” comes from the German philosopher and pedagogue Herman Nohl and means to have respect for the person, their will and needs. This should be done with empathy and should be visible in the care and attention an educator gives. Accordingly, the gift of love is a necessary part of educational action (Kron, Jürgens, & Standop, 2013, p. 177).

Although pedagogical practice is becoming increasingly professionalized and based on scientific evidence, educational processes can never be completely technical or standardized. Intuition and instinct supported by loving intentions are also a necessary component of successful pedagogical action. A professional understanding of the job role is a prerequisite for a love-based educational relationship characterised by a sense of responsibility, genuine interest, compassion and commitment (Viehhauser, 2010).