Yes. I said it. Learning for the love of learning. Can it happen? Is it possible? How can we (as educators) motivate students to LOVE learning?
This topic intrigues me. In investigating “learning”, I conducted a self-assessment, but not in my current learning style. I am thinking and assessing from when I was a student. I know how I learn now. I know why I learn now. How and why did I learn in college or even in High School? Considering I graduated High School twenty-seven years ago, this is a difficult exercise, however I challenge you to do some reflective thinking.
In fact, do one better than me. Ask your students these questions and see what their responses are. I wonder what they would say.
Ask yourself the following questions as if you were a K-12 student, not as an adult. I did. Here are my questions and answers.
Q. “Do I love to learn?” A. Sometimes. When I’m not tired, or working, or doing homework, or involved in after school activities, or helping around the house.
Q. “What do I love to learn about?” A. Things that interest me. Music, art, writing, etc.
Q. “Who do I like to learn from?” A. Hmmmm (this is where it gets interesting…)
- Someone who is excited to teach me.
- Someone who is funny.
- Someone who makes learning interesting.
- Someone who makes the tough concepts easier to understand.
- Someone who is patient.
- Someone who cares about me.
- Someone I admire.
- Someone I try to emulate.
- Someone I trust.
- Someone who inspires me to do my best.
I wonder if my recollections are accurate or if they are too inspired by what I know about student engagement and rapport (which I feel are absolutely necessary between teacher and student). So I tried to think of specific teachers and the connection I had with them – why I LOVED their classes.
I had teachers who were passionate. Some who were so passionate they ignited a spark inside me for a topic I thought I had little or no interest in. I had teachers who were so hilarious they could have been stand-up comics. Those teachers would do anything to make a lesson memorable and it worked. I know because I can recall facts that the teacher shared in a hysterical manner. I had teachers who never gave up on me. Even when I took high level courses that were incredibly challenging (at both High School and collegiate levels), I had teachers or professors who made learning interesting, never gave up on me, offered extra help, and were incredibly patient.
I had teachers who I wanted to grow up and be like. I do not mean that I wanted to be a teacher. Ironically, I did not play “teacher” as a child. I wanted to be like them because of other things like the way they treated students, their integrity, their passion, and their dedication.
I do recall that I wanted to play like one of my music teachers. When you are inspired by a gifted musician, who plays with amazing technical precision as well as a warm sound that conveys every expression imaginable, there is simply nothing like it. I wanted to emulate that sound. I admired him. I trusted him. I practiced for hours and hours because he inspired me.
As we live in a world filled with data, Common Core, student growth objectives, growth percentiles, and lots of other measureable pieces of information. How can we measure the inspiration a teacher provides to a student? How can we measure learning for the love of learning?
In my opinion, if a student gets up, gets to school, and gets inspired, we can thank dedicated, committed, engaging, passionate, funny, patient, loving teachers.