Leo Buscaglia was teaching in the Department of Special Education at the University of Southern California in the late 1960s when one of his most talented students committed suicide. Her death had a great impact on him, since the girl's frequent responses in class rested him assure that at least one person was paying attention to what was been said.
This incident made him reflect on the educational system and how "it is always stuffing facts into people and forgetting that they are human beings." One if the most crucial developments for Buscaglia was Leonard Silberman's book, "Crisis in the Classroom". In it, the sociologist and psychologist concludes that the American educational system is pretty good at getting people to read, write, learn math and spell. But it is failing miserably in teaching individuals how to be human beings.
Buscaglia formed a non-credit class called Love 1A in which there we no grades, that he taught free of salary and tuition just so students could have a forum to consider the truly essential things in life. But Buscaglia said he never taught the class, only facilitated it, adding that he learned as much as anyone. The class would share their knowledge on the topic, based on the thesis that love is learned. Psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists have stated for years that love is learned. It isn’t something that just happens spontaneously. Buscaglia defended that most of us do believe it simply happens, and that’s why we have so many hangups when it comes to human relationships.
Buscaglia reflected "if the Educational Policy’s Commission meets to decide the goals of American education, the first goal is always self-realization or self-actualization. But I have yet to find a class from elementary school right on up through graduate school on, for instance, "Who am I?, 1A;" or, "What Am I Here For?, 1A;" or "What Is My Responsibility to Man, 1A;" or, if you will, 'Love, 1A.'"
His class on love was so popular and his talks so warm and compelling, that soon Buscaglia was a popular lecture speaker and guest on television talk shows. He wrote many books, such as "Love", "Living, loving and learning" and "Loving each other", and even managed to have five titles of his on the New York Time Best Seller List simultaneously.
But if love is learned, Leo used to point out that we can always unlearn and relearn how to love, and that there is tremendous hope of for us all.