When searching for an expert on learning look no further than the crib. The infant brain is innately curious and without assistance, quickly begins to apply strategies for learning that help to make sense of the world around it. No one worries that a baby will be too lazy, uncooperative or unmotivated to learn; they know nothing of the sort. We are born with a built-in desire to acquire new information and will do so without fear of making mistakes or failing [i]. It’s this type of discovery that stimulates our natural love of learning and allows us to explore life in enriching and meaningful ways.
Yet with such a strong impetus for learning, research demonstrates that a lack of motivation to study and learn is widespread among youth in the United States, and that love of learning declines steadily from third through ninth grade [ii]. A number of views suggest that the structure of school (i.e. required attendance, school-selected topics/curriculum, and constant checking on student’s progress) assumes that children are not natural learners, but must be compelled to learn through the efforts of others. These structured approaches may in fact inhibit learning because they can avert a child’s natural curiosity, enthusiasm and intrinsic motivation.
So how can parents and educators help rekindle the love of learning? Incorporating these 5 strategies into your daily activities with students is sure to help. Not only are they important drivers for effective learning but they help to convey appropriate expectations for both you and the students.
[i] Alison Gopnik. “The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind”. William Morrow & Co., 2000
[ii] Deborah Stipek and Kathy Seal. “Motivated Minds: Raising Children to Love Learning”. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2001
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