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Reason, Force, and Love

It has been observed in a number of places that there are basically two means of persuading someone to do something they are not initially inclined to do. You can convince them through logic and reason or you can force them with superior strength or power of some sort. The only time you can do the latter is if you indeed have the upper hand in some way. If you are in a weaker position, the former is believed to be the only option available to you, though, you do have the option of using reason even if you are in a stronger position, resorting to force only if reason doesn’t work.

In a magazine letter to the editor, a reader conveyed the above message. In the next issue, another reader responded saying there was a third means of persuasion, love. For example, neither reason nor force explain a father running back into a burning building for his children. Only love does.

As an educator, I am sometimes frustrated in finding ways to motivate my students. Often logic and reason seem to fail before the forces of other classes, jobs, and even laziness or apathy. When that fails, the only other tool I’ve found in my toolkit is their grade, which for an upper division, one credit-hour class, isn’t always a very strong motivating force. But, is there a way to love them into higher performance?

I’m open to ideas.


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