Monday, July 27, 2009

Fostering a love of learning

How many times have you found yourself being sucked into reading hours of information about a topic just because you stumbled upon it? Or maybe you intentionally sought out information that had little or nothing to do with what you teach but you needed it solely for personal reasons.

Well, it is the second example which is the impetus for this post. Within the past few months, I've acquired information on how to repair my mountain bike through, determined the location of the cabin filter on the family van through, watched a video on how to install a 3 way dimmer switch at, and most recently, I was able to correctly insulate the pipe leaving the central air unit using yahoo answers. Can you tell I am a new home owner?

In each of those instances, I was hoping to be an informed consumer and save a few bucks but ultimately it was my passion knowing for how stuff works(great site) and a love of learning that drives me.

So how can we foster a love of learning? With respects to the curriculum, often times, too much emphasis is placed on content objectives when it is the affective component of the curriculum that is deficient. Please note, that I am not advocating abandoning content because having a foundation is indeed important in creating interest and passion.

What I am advocating, however,is balance on a sliding scale. Provide the foundation, check for understanding, and then allow your students to discover, apply, and create. And as the content becomes more complex, allow that scale to slide some, perhaps in favor of content, so the affective component can grab hold.

This is hardly a new concept, but imagine the time and energy our students would spend given the opportunity to engage in meaningful learning. For some teachers, this is a radical shift in pedagogy but our teachers need models too. If we model this approach within our professional development days or classes, we can take advantage of the innate curiosity within educators. Spread the seeds of curiosity(change) and watch the learning take hold.