Buddhists have a name for the quality of inquisitiveness that we associate with very young children and kittens: they call it child-mind.
It is a state of consciousness that is highly sought after by long-term practitioners of the meditative arts. It is a state of mind that represents curiosity, inquisitiveness and a natural desire for knowledge. The mind in the state can be thought of as “sticky”. Ideas and concepts answer the sticky mind and stay there for us to reflect upon and put together in interesting ways.
There is a lot of concern in the literature, especially those dealing with high school and undergraduate college curriculum about how to motivate students to become more interested in the lessons of hand.
This is a more general problem however with any topic which is not of immediate interest to the student.
A lot of student disinterest in the class I believe, however, can be attributed to the industrial age approach to education, which treat students as replaceable parts and education is a series of FAQs and standardize concepts that need to be imprinted into the brain in order to create DOS file, obedient workers. Is it any wonder that children resist this kind of indoctrination, because it offends their sense of individuality, uniqueness and joy of life.
By the time our students have grown up to be adult learners, there is a vast literature that is required to address the issue of how to create the conditions in which they will be supportive of learning. By young adulthood, we have managed to turn people from the naturally inquisitive learners of their youth into the dull and defensive automatons who resist all opportunities to learn in the same way that they have learned to resist marketing and advertising of products that they sense they don’t really need.
As teachers, we have an obligation to appeal to their natural inquisitiveness by creating the conditions in which they can find once more their innate desire to learn. We must appeal to that inner child and his or her natural curiosity by making it clear that the lesson truly is concerned with something of value, that is worthy of being known on it’s own and not necessarily to serve the purposes of others.
We must remember ourselves as teachers how to connect to the joy of learning that intrigued us as children. There’s always time for the student to figure out later how it may be applied or not in their life, but that is an effort that should be following the initial phase of learning for the sheer sake of learning.
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