Learning to love learning

Just as it's possible to unconsciously learn to avoid learning, it equally possible to learn to love learning. I know both from my own experiences. I fell in love with learning before entering college. When I started teaching college twenty years later, I was amazed by how few students loved to learn like I do. I inspired a few to love their own learning by sharing my fascination, appreciation and continual curiosity. Yet I came to see more and more evidence of others unconsciously learning to not learn from getting schooled.

As I've come to understand the dynamics of unconscious learning this year, I have a better understanding of my own love of learning. It's something I learned to love unconsciously. We cannot make ourselves love learning any more than we can follow a plan to fall in love. A love of learning emerges from experiences that provide the opposite context from those that breed "no learning":
  • We learn to pay attention because it's rewarding in a context of contributing to interesting conversations, adding another viewpoint that's appreciated and making a difference that gets respected.
  • We learn to look attentive when there's an opportunity to participate because we've learned from past experiences that we get admired, validated and encouraged to learn more when we join in.
  • We learn to value intrinsic rewards over "carrots dangled on a stick" because they play into our self motivation, self-satisfaction and further self- explorations.
  • We learn to respect and appreciate those instructors who get us to think deeper, to challenge our preconceptions and to delve into realms we would not have explored on our own.
  • We learn from peer pressure to understand things enough to explain them to others, to reason through puzzling occurrences and to formulate better questions to be asking ourselves.
  • We learn to open our minds to gain new insights, to unlearn what we previously understood and build a new basis for feeling confident.
  • We learn to sense when new information seems useful to know, practical to do, or essential to solve current problems -- and commit it to long term memory.
  • We learn to complain about bogus instruction that merely covers the material and makes learning seem like a chore -- to maintain our love of authentic learning.
  • We learn to appreciate valuable instruction that inspires us to reflect on our understanding, wonder about alternatives and explore unfamiliar realms - to experience our ongoing love for learning in action.
It's seems unlikely that a love for learning could be learned in a factory schooling context. The mass production of compliant retention would provide the attention, peer context or experiences that would seem dangerous to pursue further. It would make more sense to avoid learning while there were no signs of anyone loving learning themselves or cultivating their love of learning in others.

On the other hand, it seems very likely that a love for learning would emerge when each individual was on a path of personal discoveries, as we are in gameplay learning and utilizing our PLE's.

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