What is love? Such a simple, yet complex question to think about. Love can look differently depending on the situation or who it is we are talking about. For example, saying “I love you” to a romantic partner might mean something different than saying “I love you” to a good friend, family member, or perhaps even a pet! Or, perhaps there are many similarities and we mean virtually the same thing. When someone says they love someone, what do they really mean? Love can sound like, feel like, or look like many different things and it can be rather quite refreshing to think about.
Webster defines love as: “(1) strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (maternal love for a child) (2) attraction based on sexual desire; affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests.” Got it? As humans we know love sometimes cannot be put into words and it is more of a feeling or understanding between two people.
In class we do an activity called “What is Love?” where we get students to think about what it means to be in a loving romantic relationship. Of course you should probably get students in the proper mindset first by starting class with a little Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got to do with It? or Haddaway’s What is Love?
Here’s how it works…
- Indicate if you identify as a boy or girl.
- Describe what it would mean if you said, “I Love You” in a romantic relationship. (Students typically write for 5-7 minutes and come up with a paragraph or two).
- Fold the paper once when you are done and hand it in. One girl and one boy will take turns reading the definitions in class and the students will attempt to guess whether a boy or girl wrote the definition.
To make this more engaging for students, we turn it into a competition and the students have to keep score as to how many they guess correctly. The winner at the end of the class is crowned “Dr. Love” (you can make this as dramatic as you want).
As the students read the definitions, as the teacher, I start to write down buzz words and common themes I hear on the board (trust, respect, emotional, commitment, loyalty, etc.).
Some Reflection Questions:
- What made you think the writer was a boy or girl?
- Do you think we (males and females) are more alike than different in our views of what love means?
- What common themes did you hear mentioned when someone says “I Love You?”
- What effect might differing views of love have on a relationship?
- Where or how do we learn about love? Is it something that is innate?
- What is the difference between love and lust? (You can use this Love vs. Infatuation chart to show examples.)
The student reflections and definitions always impress me with their depth. I teach alongside Andy Milne (@carmelhealth) and he had a student say that she would happily read all of the definitions if they were printed in a book. So he typed out the love reflections and had lulu.com print them out. A copy was given to the student that made the original suggestion, and a second copy given to the student that wrote an awesome reflection.
Here is the book that was created.
Have you taught any lessons about love? Do you have some good ideas on this topic?
Let us know!