Life long learners:
In our childhood we learnt everything through unregimented self exploration and sheer force of willpower – like walking and talking. As children we found joy in the freedom of expression and creativity that unstructured play offers.
We had to explore, we had to touch, taste and smell everything. We had to pull apart everything to find out what that toy or thing actually was. But, as we began to grow, we stopped playing to our strengths and started learning through text books.
No lack of motivation:
There is obviously no dearth of motivation in our children these days. Just look at the national statistics on video games and the number of hours teens can spend without eating, standing up or sleeping, and we know that “lack of motivation” is not an issue with our children.
Then, what makes video games so enticing? Studies have shown that gamers associate video games with freedom, achievement and connectedness to peers.
We can all take a cue from gaming companies on how to make learning addictive. By creating a learning environment that nurtures and nourishes their psychological and developmental needs, we can ensure our children stay the curious learners that they are born as.
We thrive on learning in the social context, so there is a need to create a environments that are fertile for learning. To achieve that, we must provide opportunities for children where they are engaged in cooperative activities, team building, debates, collaborative problem solving and filling out student voice surveys in warm and welcoming classrooms.
Children who believe that they’re valued for who they are, become motivated to learn and become contributing citizens of the community. Children who are told that there is someone who believes in their potential are better able to guide themselves with a positive sense of purpose.
The element of surprise brings in a lot of engagement into a classroom. Having debates while standing, asking children to teach the topic of the day, rearranging furniture to form a U shape – conducive for discussions, vertical learning at the blackboard, teaching without talking, writing a full story while each child adds two lines to it and asking to put together two concepts that don’t usually go together – are all ideas that can innovate a learning environment.
We all do things because we want to be inspired and challenged. We listen to podcasts, we watch videos, we enjoy theater because we love humor, intrigue and excitement. Doing things that are not boring, energizes and stimulates growth in our personal lives.
When we question how much of what we’ve learnt we can put into practice, we activate the learning centers of the brain. Through active recollection of the concepts we know, while playing with flashcards, fun facts, riddles and quizzes, we reiterate what we learn and that’s why games like HeadsUp! make for such a fun group experience.
What’s more? Enthusiasm is contagious. Teachers who show they enjoy what they do inspire children into being more motivated about learning. Adding a touch of mystery to class themes while slowing revealing clues can keep children on their toes and activate their interest in class.
Children who develop feelings of competence through hard work, setting and sustaining long term goals and being appreciated along the way for their work – feel empowered. When they feel appropriately challenged and rewarded, they develop a sense of satisfaction that needs no external validation – thereby, staying focused on their goals for longer periods of time.
Playing games like reiterating what they have learnt via one minute on video speeches can help children understand the depth of their learning. Creating a “knowledge” growth chart to mark their milestones will help them identify gaps and take control of their learning process.
Giving tools that develop a problem solving attitude and grit enable children to feel autonomous. That allows them to make responsible choices and take ownership for the decisions they make. Asking their input to help shape the learning environment better is also a sure shot way to empower children in the process. It is empowering to children when we assure them that their hard work is showing in the positive progress they’re making towards the end goal.
Curious learners for a strong future:
The word education must be associated with humor, interaction, laughter, novelty and discovery rather than boredom, exams, tests, fear and anxiety. Education that is fun and engaging can reignite the fire of desire to learn, to understand, to master everything as children it seems unstoppable.
Apart from academics, we must teach our children that no one can determine their value but themselves. We must teach them that success is living intentionally each day, it is going that extra mile when everyone has already quit, it is making the small wins along the journey and becoming a better version of themselves than the previous day. It is taking action each and every day, however big or small.
Future STRONG Academy strives to make education interesting through activities that increase curiosity and critical thinking. Children can be taught to develop persistence and create and sustain long term goals by learning how to manage time and expectations and problem solve real world scenarios. Whether they become a high flying executive, a lawn worker or a coffee shop owner, personal qualities like grit, empathy and curiosity can turn them into unstoppable life long learners.