The necessity of interest in learning does not only mean that someone has an interest in learning about something. It also means that when someone has an interest in something it becomes easy and even enjoyable to learn about that topic. An example from a 1990s movie features a girl who is struggling to understand a math concept. When her brainy sister explains the math problems to her and substitutes nail polish into the story problem instead of construction materials she becomes interested in learning how to solve the math problems. This is a comical example, but it can be applied to the way all people learn. Here are some more examples of why it is important to have interest in learning.
Infants and pre-school aged children choose what they are interested in learning
If a toddler is interested in trucks and cars they will spend hours playing with their toy vehicles. Some children’s first words include the names of these things that they are interested in. Before they are able to speak in complete sentences they may be able to identify a dump truck or the names of different car models. It is amazing how children are able to learn so much about the things that interest them.
Primary school aged children are interested in learning about specific subjects
Most kids in elementary school develop an extreme interest in a certain subject like horses or dinosaurs. Because they are interested in that subject they automatically have an interest in learning more about those things. Some kids can recite the complicated names of dinosaurs before they can even read or write and they may even be motivated to practice reading books about dinosaurs. This shows us that our brains are capable of learning, especially when there is an interest in learning about something.
Maintaining the interest in learning into high school and adulthood
We know that it is natural for people to soak up all sorts of information when they have an interest in learning about that particular subject. When students enter junior high and high school they are expected to memorize information and learn mathematical equations that can be frankly uninteresting. If it is beneficial for teachers to use student interest to motivate learning in elementary school why not apply the same principle when teaching older students. Like the movie example of the girl who didn’t understand the math equation until it involved nail polish, older students and even adults still learn better when they are interested in what they are learning about.
How can educators help students develop an interest in learning new things?
Since people learn better when they have an interest in the subject material it seems that educators should begin by helping students develop interest. If a student already has an interest in a certain subject, perhaps that topic can be referred to when teaching math concepts. On the other hand when learning about events in history the challenge is for the teacher to present the information in a way that sparks the students’ interests. Here are some ways to help generate student interest.
For students who seem to lack an interest in learning new things it may be beneficial to provide more personalized instruction. This can be done by a parent spending time working with the student at home or by having a personal tutor. When working with students in a one-on-one setting it is easier to incorporate the student’s interests into learning new subjects and to help instill an interest based on knowing the individual student. Adults can also apply this principle as well. By developing a level of interest in something, learning can continue far beyond the school years.