How To Fuel The Internal Engine of Learning

From How to Fuel The Internal Engine of Learning.

Learning outside school is necessarily driven by an internal engine. … [I]ndependent learners stick with the reading, thinking, making, and experimenting by which they learn because they do it for love, to scratch an itch, to satisfy curiosity, following the compass of passion and wonder about the world.

Even while you are learning at an institution, there are things you may want to learn outside the institution itself. A great example of this is programming. Many colleges start with ‘C’, not necessarily the best language to get students interested in learning programming. Some of the most successful schools have been teaching Scheme and have now switched to Python (MIT, Berkeley). The programming language does not matter as much as having some one experience the joy of creation as early as possible. That is probably one of the reasons school children start with MIT Scratch.

School isn’t very good at dealing with the multiplicity of individual learning preferences, and it’s not very good at helping you figure out what works for you.

Schools are constrained in many ways. They have large classes. Even figuring out individual learning preferences take time. And most schools are not set up for dealing with multiple learning style. A few things may help – setting up a place for students to explore and experiment. Labs are supposed to be meant for this but seem to rarely do it.

your ability to sustain internal motivation … is to situate what you’re learning in a context that matters to you. In some cases, the context is a specific project you want to accomplish, which … also functions to support your sense of progress.

To learn anything well, you need strong internal motivation. Context is certainly a big problem. I had no context for more than 99% of what I learned. Putting this entire burden on teachers is not fair. However, if each teacher can share some context that helped students understand why they learn what they learn, we can make some big strides.

The exchange of knowledge is a very human way to learn.