Carl Rogers, the renowned educational psychologist, has this to say about learning:

"We know that the facilitation of learning rests not upon the teaching skills of the leader, not upon his curricular planning, not upon his use of audiovisual aids, not upon the programmed learning he utilizes, not upon his lectures and presentations, not upon an abundance of books, though each of these might at one time or another be utilized as an important resource. No, the facilitation of significant learning rests upon certain attitudinal qualities which exist in the personal relationship between the facilitator and the learners." (Rogers, Freedom to Learn, Ohio: Merrill, 1969, 105-106)

There is no learning without a relationship.

The more loving and trusting the relationship is, the greater is the confidence of the learner with respect to what is learned. We only need to look at our own experiences to know how important loving kindness is in education:

- The things we learn from people we love have greater impact on our lives, and are more difficult to forget than what we learn from others.
- The things we learn in an atmosphere of trust are not merely bits of information to memorise, but experiences that we become passionate about.

Contrast this with learning in a climate of fear.

- When we are afraid, we rarely learn. We often act in order to please the one we fear. How we perform for them matters more than what we think about them and what they teach us. We become dishonest. Youngsters who are raised in fear learn the art of wearing masks.
- In a climate of fear we also grow more dependent on others. We are afraid of making mistakes. We lose confidence in ourselves. We begin to look to others for ideal solutions. We lack self-appreciation and believe we are incapable of success. Children brought up in fear are handicapped even before they take their first steps into a complex world.

Don Bosco gives us three keys to establishing rapport in any educator-student relationship:

a) “Love what the young love, that they may love what you love.”
b) “It is not enough to love, they must know that they are loved.”
c) “Familiarity breeds affection. Affection breeds confidence.”

Education is not mere teaching. While the latter is a one way transmission of knowledge from teacher to pupil, the former is the ability of the educator to draw out the best from the educand.

This ‘drawing out’ cannot happen unless (a) a relationship of love first exists. Too often teachers rush in to ‘indoctrinate’ the values they cherish without first establishing a kind and friendly relationship with their students. Don Bosco's Way guarantees that youngsters are ready to receive "what their educator's love" once the educators themselves have made efforts to appreciate what they (the youth) love and feel most comfortable with.

The things that young people like are, therefore, the first points of contact in education – not the school syllabus or the class assignment. Just as in cognitive learning we move from the known to the unknown, so also in affective learning, educators must meet the learners in the 'places' where the learners feel most at home, and in the things that the learners like: play, fun, recreation, sports, music, theatre, outings, new media, entertainment technologies, or simply hanging out with their peers. Being with young people in the things that interest them, is the best way to letting them know that (b) they are loved. In this relationship of confidence, a positive disposition is fostered and the process of  learning becomes a joyful experience.

'Spending time' with young people builds rapport between educator and educand, and redounds to the advantage of the total learning experience. Affection gives rise to genuine trust and confidence (c) in which learning becomes a joyful experience. The prospect of making mistakes in an ecology of love does not deter the learner from taking risks. Failures become stepping stones to self-discovery and confidence fosters creativity.

Art: René Follet - The Race