Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Love First, Design Later; Love as Praxis

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In a recent #moocmooc chat, the idea of designing by prioritizing love came up. Sean Michael Morris said something, I said “love first, design later” and Jesse made it his fave new Instructional Design model:

love first, design later on hearts
(can’t figure out how to use html on WP phone app…will fix later)

And some tweeting today about love (it started about “giving” but ended up about love…)

“They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish” ~ Kahlil Gibran (for @Jessifer @slamteacher @autumm)
https://t.co/cxcBZsbcrK

Can we love our students before we ever meet them in the same way we love our children before they are born? I loved my child for YEARS before she was even conceived. I think I have always loved my students, too. Not all teachers take a nurturing attitude towards their students and it can seem a paternalistic sort of thing… Except when you’re not using it for control… You’re using the care and love to guide your decisions in the moment and a priori. I have seen good teachers do it all the time. For them, social justice is not about fairness and treating everyone the same but about love and treating each person differently because each is a unique individual.

Beyond these platitudes… Placing love as a value before all other pedagogical decisions is hard work. Which I will write about separately!

Happy Valentine’s day

6 Comments

  1. It’s amazing because I ended up with the same conclusion for Web Application Design and the day is well chosen.

    The trend to day is to build an application just sufficient to raise interest and cause a first group of potential users to show interest. What we call minimal viable product. The edge of the trend is that this proto-prototype should concentrate on design first (design in the esthetical dimension) to be a minimal loveable product. For me it sounds silly because you place most of the effort upfront on something which is not so related to the app itself. As if to sell cakes you start by designing the box around the cake.

    There is a reason behind that. Most people are careful of the way you deliver your product before everything else. If it’s crappy and show lack of deference for their attention they just don’t go further. They prefer to wait until someone come out with the same idea but a better care for their taste.

    There is a second reason. Showing you care about your future users show you placed attention on the experience as well as the functionality. It shows you put thinking and empathy for them.

    It’s not wrong. If you show love for your future customers it’s likely you have the best motivation to serves them the best.

  2. Is it possible to see love as just a “model”? Shouldn’t love be the underpinning of all you do? Shouldn’t it drive everything?

    I say this to comment on the wording. When we say “love first”, what do we mean?

    When I suggest love might drive everything, I am aware of how pompous that sounds. But…

    …I am aware of how I try to allow love to drive my interactions, concepts like acceptance, tolerance, and non-violence form part of an understanding of how love might inform all I do.

    But I am not very good at it, and part of me, the researcher/evaluator recoils at these wordings. Love is such a vague term. Which love are we talking of? The question is absurd.

    Love is a braid: love for mother, for partner, for brother, for lover, for sister, for friend, for family, for human, for stranger, for soul, all informs all. Love is the whole.

    But linguistically love is tenuous. Explain it without flourishes and it disappears, a slippery chimaera. It inhabits the limits of language, and is hard to rope into a “design” agenda/blueprint/schedule. So that sometimes when I see statements like “love first, design later” I get edgy, I look for my toys, for the edges of the pram….

    But perhaps if you live it, love is part of the bedrock of your life, beyond agenda, beyond attitude. Which is what comes through in your post, Maha.

    Love, Nick

  3. Thanks – I enjoyed reading the post and I am in tune with its sentiment. Nick points out the tenuous nature of the language we use. As I teacher, I felt I had an obligation to ‘love’ (in a teacherly way maybe like Nel Noddings caring) but I was not obliged to like all. Maybe Twitter predisposes towards slogans and certainly marketing and advertising love them. What tweaked my antennae was the separation of the design act in time from the love imperative. Technology is so beguiling when it wraps up its design in pretty packaging but still being easy to use. Tech corps love slogans and philanthropy but we shouldn’t be afraid to unwrap the parcel and question the motives and the whole mess.

  4. I also had thoughts of “love first” as step one in relating with learning this past week as well. I see “love” through Nel Noddings’ pedagogy of care where if I care about someone I will care about what I ask them to do; through Susan Scott’s (Fierce Conversations) idea of “coming out from behind ourselves” with honesty and vulnerability; through Parker Palmer’s (A Hidden Wholeness) notion of us finding wholeness in joining our inner and outer selves so we can participate in circles of trust within community; through Brene Brown’s (The Gifts of Imperfection) discussion of love and belonging, which ground our sense of worthiness; and through Hannah Arendt (The Human Condition): “Love, by its very nature, is unworldly, and it is for this reason rather than its rarity that it is not only apolitical but antipolitical, perhaps the most powerful of all antipolitical forces.”

    What does that look like in intentionally designed (digital) learning spaces?

    • Hi Barry – thanks for all these references – i know the authors but was only aware of Noddings’ work on Care. Somehow felt the term care was too lukewarm to make my point here, but in practice what i am thinking could be similar to what she describes.

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