I don’t like having my emotions manipulated without my permission. I do frequently give my permission. I have a fondness for Frank Capra movies. I can recite lines from “It’s a Wonderful Life” before they are spoken on the screen and I still cry at every tearjerking scene. But the important issue here is that with movies, I seek out this emotional catharsis. It isn’t thrust upon me with the tacit message that if I don’t feel the right emotions at the right moments I must probably be missing something as a human being.
One day, while teaching, I (as well as the whole school district) was subjected to just such emotional manipulation by a high ranking district administrator. All schools and offices were sent an INTEROFFICE CORRESPONDENCE labeled A TRUE STORY. It is the Teddy Stoddard story (two versions follow below – the original and mine). You may have heard of it. It is a wonderful parable about the power of love. I can’t read it without getting choked up, until I remember it was sent to me to deliver a message: all we need to do is love and understand our students and they will all succeed.