Academic Lens: Unreasonable Love

Posted by Scott Allenby


Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Student leadership sold Candy-Grams during lunch today and will place them in mailboxes tomorrow morning. We anticipate the normal adolescent flirting to tick up just a bit on this day of love, and there will probably be at least a few deliveries of flowers by secret admirers before the end of the day tomorrow. This post may have been triggered by Valentine's Day, but the focus is far from the Hallmark holiday before us. Instead, I want to dig into an aspect of “love” that I believe every school should nurture with more intentionality. So bear with me as we take a circuitous route through Valentine’s Day, hugs, love, academics, and institutional evolution.


Love is a mystery. Why do we care so deeply for someone else, for something else, that we allow our emotions to trigger irrational actions? Think about those you love most - your spouse, child, dog, friend, parent, sibling - and the process of falling in love. For some of us, it was love at first sight. For others it was love over time. And we're not just talking about romantic love here, but that fierce love for those closest to us that make us act in unreasonable ways. Regardless of our journey to love, we have all experienced a state of unreasonableness that accompanies the relationship. We readily, even eagerly, sacrifice our own self-interest for the interest of others. To the outside observer we are irrational beings, and yet we cannot imagine acting any other way. 


Our love for Proctor is just as irrational as the teenage romance that surrounds us each day. We love this place despite the flaws, warts, and the not-so-subtle ugliness our community possesses. Proctor is not as perfect as our website portrays. We have never claimed to be and are pretty confident we never will be. And yet all of us who live, work, learn, or have had children attend Proctor readily say how much we love this school community. We love the people here, Proctor’s educational model, and the programs that make us unique.


But more than that, we love this place because of the deep current within the community that embraces the same unreasonableness we find in our love for others. It’s a willingness to do things differently than other schools; to look critically at the current that is flowing in the independent school world and to have the confidence to paddle like hell against it. Whether it is how we wrestle with technology as a community, how we entertain crazy ideas for new programs, the constant reminders from our faculty to give students a say in decisions that impact their lives, our unique way of integrating learning support, our support of robust industrial arts programs in a digital age, our investment in our own ski hill, or simply our willingness to call each other by our first names, we feel most comfortable being different.


So our advice, our plea, as Valentine’s Day descends upon us and we prepare to observe the unreasonableness of love is to mirror that irrational behavior in how we live our life. Think outside the box. Be different. Be bold. Take risks. As George Bernard Shaw said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable person doesn't; therefore all progress comes from unreasonable people.” Let us each be a little more unreasonable today than we were yesterday. The world will thank us later.


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