Nature vs. Nurture- Staying motivated as a teacher

The nature vs nurture debate

An age-old conundrum, most individuals would be familiar with the epic battle between nature and nurture. Is a person’s personality founded because of unavoidable genetics or because of life-changing events? Scientists have minutely examined the lifetimes of famous people such as Adolf Hitler, Albert Einstein, and more in the hopes of revealing whether our environment establishes who we become. Perhaps we are victims of events that alter us in our early years. Alternatively, we have no control over our actions because our genetic code lays our character down for us, and we are incapable of fighting it. If you would like to read more about this argument, read


While the scientific investigation of nature vs. nurture can be left up to the experts, I find that this principle helps me put classroom management into perspective. At the beginning of the year, some teachers get that student, the one who acts up and you dread teaching as soon as you obtain your class list for the new session. Educators lament their luck over coffee with peers, coming up with strategies to bring the unruly element to heel. 

When this banter begins, I find it beneficial to draw the discussion towards why we became teachers in the first place.

Nature vs Nurture for teachers

The reason behind an individual becoming an educator could be rooted in the fact that they had educators in the family and that teaching comes naturally to them. For others, this is an unearthed passion leading to a feeling of lifelong learning and nurtured skills. When we feel vulnerable as facilitators at tricky junctions, we should reflect on whether we are in this profession simply because we can be or because we are called to the classroom.

A vocation with rewards predominantly based on emotional satisfaction, educators must realize that they are given tough jobs because they can handle it.

If management builds an environment of well-being and is nurturing towards teachers in general, every task can become an opportunity for growth. 


Taking a cue from nature vs nurture

When we dig deeper into research material, it becomes clear that educators hold a special niche in the nature vs nurture debate.

Not only are we called to this profession because of our natures, but we are called to nurture too.

The intrinsic motivation that calls to teachers like sirens from the shore is a part of our nature, and the pull becomes stronger as we grow in the profession. A colleague once said to me-

Teachers are special people. Very few can do what we do. When we give, we give of our whole selves, never asking for it back! That is why we have students that remember us long after we’re gone.”

As I pondered upon what she said, I realized that for us as teachers, nature and nurture go hand in hand rather than pitted against each other in a fight. Education is certainly a unique profession, where every day is different and unpredictable. It is also one of the only careers where building bonds and nurturing those bonds over a long period of time is crucial. It is precisely because of a teacher’s extraordinary nature that we can attain a balance between nurture and restraint, nature and skill.


Everyone engaged in the education sector knows that there have been hard times during the last year and a half. There have been many instances when my colleagues and I have debated the fundamental nature of our jobs as educators during the pandemic when everything we knew changed overnight. Whether fundamental structures change because of a generation that has been deeply affected by grief and isolation, teachers are still a beacon of light and positivity. Our natures enable us to go to the frontline and guarantee that our young ones are looked after.

Our nurturing spirit will make sure that the world doesn’t see a populace scarred, but strong citizens rising to the challenge of resilience and fortitude.

The marriage of nature and nurture in all a teacher stands for should be enough to spur us to get through difficult times. We were chosen to teach, to give, to love, to nurture unconditionally because it is in our nature. The environment we are thrust into no longer matters because we have learned to transcend boundaries, conquer challenges, and teach others to do the same. 



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