In the last letter we looked at the fact that FRUSTRATION is a big part of learning, but becoming a good learner isn’t just about overcoming frustration. There is a second thing that explains what makes a good learner.
What is the One Word that Explains Why Some People Are Learners and Some People Are Not?
It’s definitely not the word intellect!
There are bright people who don’t learn and average people who go on from learning to learning. If you’ll just pay attention to yourself you can figure this one out! When have you learned your best? What was the subject? Why were you so interested? Do you think this is any different for children or adults?
My guess is that you are thinking you were ‘interested’ or ‘entertained’, but neither of those explain it. Let me give you a personal example. I used to hate music…and I hated musicals even more! The Sound of Music honestly used to wig me out…but today I love musicals (I’ll tell you why in a moment). Now, I’m not trying to tell you a secret for liking things you hate, but rather to learning things that don’t interest you. More importantly, this can a big difference with helping your children learn.
What is the secret? Well, in the last post we discussed the fact that FRUSTRATION is a key. Of course, it’s true–unless a student learns to tolerate frustration, there isn’t much of a chance to learn. Instead, they’ll just blame the teacher, the system, or ‘the man’ (whoever that is in each context). While learning to tolerate frustration in order to learn is important, it isn’t the reason some of us learn things and others don’t.
Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to change how you feel about a subject so you could immediately and joyfully begin to study it? Well, it isn’t only possible, it is likely, if you’ll make use of this one word:
Learning always involves curiosity (the exception might be when fear is forcing someone to learn something he otherwise isn’t interested in).
Curiosity draws us along as learners. It adds intrigue and mystery and hope to the effort. If you are curious, then you have the energy to satisfy that curiosity. You want to know (learn) because that is where satisfaction is…not knowing (learning) is dissatisfaction and angst (the good kind).
With music (and musicals) and me , one day I asked a new question, “Why do so many people like musicals, The Sound of Music in particular?” So, armed with that question I found the answer… a part of which, is that you must realize the movie’s ‘universe or world’ isn’t the same as our own. The rules are different there so people can break out into song to communicate (yes, I was missing this point). There are other reasons, but I’ll leave that to your own curiosity.
Make it Useful
OK, so Dr. Lybrand, what do we do with this info? Well, if you are a teacher of any kind (and especially if you homeschool), then why not invite more curiosity in your students? I did not say ‘make it more interesting’ here. How could you make curiosity happen? The easiest way is by asking questions. Specifically, something like, “Who…what…when…where…why…how.” Or, “What would you like to know about this?” Who would learning this subject help? How does this work? Why is studying this subject valuable? Where will you use this if your really learn it?” It’s even better to think of your own ways!
Well, you get the idea. Here’s where to start— Start with being curious about helping others get curious about their own learning. If you get curious about learning and teaching…you’ll figure it out.
How do I know? Well, you’re curious aren’t you?