Has Your Child Lost Their Love for Learning? Here Are 5 Ways to Change That
“Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it’s the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardizing in the way we educate our children and ourselves.” - Sir Ken Robinson
We’re all born to learn.
From our earliest years, we’re soaking in everything around us. From language and movement to emotions and interpersonal skills, our brains are constantly absorbing new information and building knowledge.
This is never more prevalent than when we’re children.
Children are hardwired to learn. They have a natural curiosity about everything.
The first few years of a child’s life are crucial for health and development later on in life. This is because of how fast the brain grows during this time. Although the brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, the first 8 -10 years can build a foundation for future learning, health, and development.
However, somewhere along the line, something’s gone wrong.
Once children enter the formal education system, they tend to fall out of love with learning. Let’s take a look at why this is.
Where Did We Go Wrong?
For many children, the traditional education system is just not working. It works against children’s natural learning instincts.
But how did we get here?
In 2020, we were lucky to speak virtually with the late Sir Ken Robinson, who was an incomparable thought leader, academic, and activist for creativity in education.
According to Sir Ken Robinson, our increased demand for academic-style schooling has made schools into an industrial system.
Our education systems were scaled up to cater to increased demand. The desired output? A linear process that would take kids from school straight to university.
However, the process of learning is so much more than that and is in no way linear. It’s definitely so much more than passing a test or getting a certain grade, and unfortunately, many children are suffering as a result.
What’s Holding Students Back From Loving Learning?
Conventional schools focus almost exclusively on academic aptitudes, and this requires a very specific kind of thinking and is underpinned by very traditional learning systems.
According to Sir Ken Robinson, “This approach is just one kind of intellectual activity and is not an accurate reflection of the diverse intellectual activity that we are all capable of.”
Here are a few reasons why our traditional education systems are not encouraging a lifelong love for learning.
A Matter of Motivation
When learning is centered around tests and assessments, students start learning in order to pass the tests or get a certain grade, rather than for the sake of actually learning and engaging with the content.
This results in students learning through extrinsic motivation rather than intrinsic motivation. When a child is extrinsically motivated to learn something, the learning is very surface level, and without any motivation like a test or exam to study for, there’s no interest in learning. When a child is intrinsically motivated, they’ll carry a passion for learning with them throughout their life.
Rules, Rules, and More Rules
Most traditional school environments are structured by rules and regulations. Students are told what they’re gonna learn, how they’re gonna learn, and when they’re gonna learn it.
Additionally, students are required to sit still and stay quiet for hours on end - something that is completely contradictory to a child’s natural disposition.
In this kind of environment, learning becomes a chore rather than something enjoyable.
Being Told What to Learn, When
In conventional learning environments, different subjects are divided into different lessons. All students have a timetable that they follow, and each subject is segmented into its own time slot in the day.
However, a child’s natural learning mechanisms don’t always work in these kinds of structured ways. They won’t necessarily always feel like learning maths every Wednesday morning at 9 am.
What’s more, this rigid structure does not create room for learning to happen organically, nor does it give students any autonomy or ownership of their learning journey.
The Standardization Game
We know for a fact that no two children are exactly the same, nor will they learn and think in the same way. Yet all students are expected to learn at the same pace and cover the exact same content, all at the exact same time.
This is so not realistic.
When there’s no personalization in the curriculum or the learning experience, students will feel less motivated and will be a lot less interested.
Additionally, those that don’t fit the status quo often get left behind and don’t have their learning needs properly met.
Where Did The Creativity Go?
The curriculums in most conventional education systems put a heavy focus on learning areas like maths and literacy. While these are obviously very important subjects to cover, it’s often at the expense of other more creativity-focused subjects like music, art, dance, or drama.
Experts believe strongly that equal attention should be paid to these creative subjects, as they teach invaluable skills for lifelong learning like critical thinking, creative intelligence, abstract thought, problem-solving and more.
Learning From the Best
Sir Ken Robinson was of the belief that in order to properly incorporate creativity into our education and to get children to love learning again, we need a total transformation. He said:
“The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed — it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.”
There may be a lot wrong with our education systems, but there are still many ways that we can reignite a child’s love for learning.
How to Reignite a Love for Learning
Unfortunately, there’s no way to wave a magic wand that will get your kids to suddenly LOVE learning about nuclear physics. But here are a few places to start.
Focus on Interest-Led Learning
One of the best ways to get children to actually engage with and enjoy what they’re learning is to relate it to their interests and passions. When education is self-directed and passion-driven, children develop autonomy over their learning experience.
It helps them learn that they are in control of their own lives, and it allows them to learn through any kind of resources and in a way that suits them and interests them.
Allowing children to learn through their interests also shows them that learning doesn’t only need to be in the four walls of a classroom, but can happen anywhere, at any time.
This is crucial for developing a lifelong love for learning.
Bring Back Play
Play is one of the most important components of learning. Play is one of the easiest ways for children to express themselves, and a very relatable medium to learn through.
Play comes so naturally to children and is a great way to learn about collaboration, interpersonal skills, teamwork, and patience, to name a few.
Lastly, play is fin. So why not make learning fun for children?
Nowadays, there is almost no limit to the resources a child can learn from. Students arent limited to textbooks and worksheets. There are YouTube videos, video games, educational apps, online courses, and more.
Giving children the freedom to learn through whatever medium works best allows them to explore information and content more freely and make it an overall more enjoyable experience.
Let Go of the Pressure
There is a lot of pressure on parents to do the ‘right thing’ with their kids. In turn, parents often end up putting this pressure on the kids to do certain things in a certain way or achieve various milestones at specific times.
It's been proven time and time again that students learn best when learning about something they love. This doesn't mean they won't cover things like maths and science, but they'll just do it in their own way and on their own time.
A Creative Flair
Learning through creative tasks and activities is not only a fun way for children to express themselves, but it also helps to build creative intelligence.
Developing creative intelligence allows children to deeply engage with their own experiences, the experiences of others, and the wider world around them. Skills like imagination, problem-solving, innovation, and critical original thinking are transferable to all areas of learning -- and life.
Get Your Child to Love Learning Again With Galileo
At Galileo, we love learning. And we love that our students love learning, too.
We’re committed to nurturing happy, curious, and passionate children. We believe that every child is a natural-born leader with the potential to achieve anything they set their mind to. Through this, we have created a community of like-minded families who want to join us on this mission.
Simply put, we help future-looking families to empower their children beyond the classroom. Galileo allows learners to curate their own learning journeys while supporting them every step of the way.