The quote above is from a participant in my summer STEM camp that I implement in partnership with Guidance, Life-Skills, and Mentoring (GLAM). GLAM is a program for young ladies of African American descent. During this camp, providing a loving and hospitable environment was not optional but mandatory, everyday. A loving and hospitable environment made engaging with mathematics and science concepts easy. The ladies, even those who did not enjoy mathematics and/or science, were always willing to work. They were excited about learning!!!
As mathematics and science educators, we sometimes proclaim that we teach mathematics (or science), forgetting that we really teach students. However, we should never forget the students we teach and the power of love and hospitality. We all know how great it feels to walk in someone’s home for the first time and be treated like we have lived there for years. We understand how great it feels to walk into an establishment and receive wonderful customer service. We also know how it feels to walk into a home and feel unwelcome or walk into an establishment to only be followed or ignored. These feelings often lead us to say, “I will never come here again”. So now lets replace the word home and establishment with learning spaces or classrooms.
How do we expect our kids to learn if they are in environments that are not loving and hospitable? Our kids deciding to “never come here (classroom/learning spaces) again” can have a detrimental impact on their lives. We can integrate engaging, relevant, and challenging learning activities in classrooms but if the environment is not loving and hospitable we cannot expect kids to show up either physically or mentally.