|Annie Murphy Paul|
Other educationalists have written that learning is the default mode of humans at birth – schools should do nothing to harm or distort this natural process. That something that starts so well should end up as turned off should worry all involved in schooling.
Pink continues, ‘For artist, scientists, inventors, schoolchildren and the rest of, intrinsic motivation - the drive to do something because it is interesting, challenging, and absorbing – is essential for high level creativity’. If there is anything fundamental about human nature, it’s the capacity for interest. Some things facilitate it. Some things undermine it. . Something politicians, principals, teachers and parents need to urgently consider.
Such findings present a challenge to teachers and parents to promote interest. Murphy quotes John Dewey who wrote that interests operate by a process of “catch” and “hold”. First the individual’s interest must be captured, and then it must be maintained. Catching is about seizing attention and stimulating the imagination (Bruner’s ‘canny temptation’) .This can be done by making use of interests students bring with them ( all too often neglected by teachers) and by exposing students to a wide variety of topics – it is here that the various learning areas provide possibilities. Obviously different people find different things interesting- one reason to provide learners with a range of subject matter, in the hope something will resonate. This relates well to the multiple intelligences research of Howard Gardner.
|Protect at all costs|
The best thing teachers and parents can do, writes Murphy Paul, ‘is by supporting their feelings of competence and self-sufficiency, helping them to sustain their attention and motivation when they encounter challenging or confusing material. Weaker learners need may need more of this assistance to find and maintain their interests, while stronger learners can be pushed in the direction of increasing autonomy and self-direction. The goal is to cultivate interests that provide us with lasting intellectual stimulation and fulfilment, interests that we pursue over a lifetime with vigour and zest.’
If we want to develop the lifelong learners, the vision of the New Zealand Curriculum then schools need to focus on developing the transformational power of interests – using curriculum areas to a means to this end; to practise Jerome Bruner’s ‘canny art of intellectual temptation’.
So far few schools have shown the wit and intelligence to do just this. The first country to develop the talents and gifts of all its students will win the 21stC