Babies, ballet teachers and more. In this episode Andy, Emily and Adam try to figure out where the inspiration for learning comes from. Is learning innate? Why does learning feel so satisfying? Plus, the real issue of barriers to learning and the importance of strong role models.
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Hi, I'm Andy Psarianos.
Hello, I'm Emily Guille-Marrett.
Hi, I'm Adam Gifford.
This is 'The School of School' podcast. Welcome to 'The School of School' podcast.
So hi, everyone. Today we're talking about where does the inspiration for learning come from?
Right? This could be a bit chicken and the egg, but I'm going to say the inspiration for learning comes from learning. That's the single biggest motivator, because I think that when you learn something, the sense of success that you feel once you've done that, you want more. Like it's really satisfying learning something. I think that that holds true for everyone, whether it's something you're passionate about, a hobby, something at school. So I think that in part, it has to come from being successful and learning in the first instance and relating that success to when I learned something new.
Yeah. I was thinking about, I kind of do that classic thing of when someone asks a question like that, thinking about babies. And I was thinking, you kind of think about in that kind of innate human desire to kind of take those first steps. The very first things that we need to be able to do when we are sort of like going to eat or sleep and then emotion, and then slowly you start to learn.
And toddlers are the best I think, because they're trying and they're trying and they're trying because they want to move. They want to get from that seated position and they want to get moving. And those sort of spaces where you see them trying and they learn to be able to do it and then it becomes very natural. And then it's the next thing is to go and the trouble that you go through, but you'll keep going. And then the excitement, the big clap when you do your first steps.
And I think if you think about that, when they're very little and think about it as adults. There's a lot going on there that I still think is that innate human, natural desire to learn and be successful and to be able to do something.
Yeah, but we're all sort of in the education field and we've chosen or at least by circumstance ended up here. So are we just delusional? And are we just learn to love, or love to learn, I should say. But maybe the reality is different, right? Do all kids want to learn? Are they all inspired to learn naturally?
Do all kids get the opportunity to be inspired to learn? So that they have the desire to learn.
Yeah. I'm going to call you on that. That sounds like a cop out to me. I think that's easy to say. Right. But is it possible that some people just don't want to learn? Right.
Yeah. It is.
Like they just don't feel inspired at all to learn anything.
I don't know about anything.
I don't know about anything. You can't be like anything. That's even too depressing to contemplate, but I think it's true. It's definitely true that the motivation to learn for some things can be gone, never to get again. I have no motivation, whatever. I can't find any inspiration in learning to ice skate. I hurt myself too many times trying to learn it. I have no desire, nothing's there to make me want to learn that. Nothing. Unless maybe-
Not even hanging onto the penguins? Not even hanging onto the penguins that drag you around embarrassingly as your children do spins around you. Not even-
But maybe there's a second point of inspiration. And that's the people who are helping you learn. And that maybe in whatever field it is, doesn't matter about your teacher, it could be a boss, it could be your parents, it could be anyone. Is that maybe they can inspire you to learn through a range of skills that they possess, either passion towards something or incentives towards something. And maybe that's what inspires us to learn.
Andy your suggestion, I know you like to be radical, but your suggestion is that basically some people maybe potentially don't want to learn.
Yeah. That's kind of what I'm saying. Let me ask the question in a different way. Can you destroy someone's desire to learn?
So it's possible that somebody doesn't want to learn.
Okay, so let's just flip that around then. I think we all believe that everyone is kind of hardwired to want to learn. Right. That's sort of a survival skill. Yeah? We're made that way. Right. So what are some of the things that you might do if you wanted to destroy somebody's will to learn?
Oh, I watched a movie recently with my kids, Billy Elliott and it's the musical. And the little kid he's, I don't know if many of you know it but he's in an environment, it's quite a kind of macho environment and it's all about boxing. So he shouldn't be dancing. He shouldn't do ballet. The the door was never even opened. Potentially the door may never have even been opened. And it was almost ridiculed when there was this idea or there was a shock that he might want to do ballet. So just as you were saying that, it made me think of that because it's that the idea that some people might have that you can't do this. Or if you speak to the older generation that a lot of women who are told they could be secretaries or nurses. There are certain worlds not open to you. So for whatever socioeconomic or cultural or personal background. The idea that, that could break somebody that you really want to find out, you really want to do something, but for whatever reason there's a barrier to it.
Yeah. Yeah. And overcoming that is really difficult. Right. So if you want to persevere to overcome those fears that are put in front of you, right. So like not fitting in or whatever it is that anxiety, then you can really turn people off. And most people will not persevere beyond those. So that's quite an interesting story, the Billy Elliot one, he manages to overcome all that and-
become a dancer. Right. Despite the fact that everybody tells him that he shouldn't.
Except for that wonderful dance teacher who very cleverly entices him in.
And that's often where I think within education, those teachers have the chance to open a door for somebody in that instance, that's one. And the other, I suppose I've spoken a lot about illiteracy or children who don't have basic numeracy skills, if that's carried on through, then it becomes potentially an embarrassment. You become excluded. And therefore you don't have a desire to learn because to actually tell people that you are 15 and you can't read a basic book, that's a very hard, tough barrier. And you can lose people. So there's another example where it's an awkward, you get angry, people they become angry, defensive, all those sorts of things. And so that's another one for me where I guess that's where my passion for wanting to support education in the primary years is so important. Because if you can lay the foundations in maths and literacy you are at least giving the opportunity to explore knowledge and learning.
Yeah. I think you want people to learn to love to learn, right. And if you can do that, and that can come from various sources, it can come from that inspiration can come. So it's an innate thing. Like I think most people want to learn all kinds of things. And in a lot of cases, they enjoy learning the most when they don't even think they're learning. Right. So when you're not sitting down in a formal learning environment, but you're actually learning through the social interactions and circumstances and stuff. But also you need strong role models. Right? You need to be able to see yourself in someone else. Right. You see someone and say, 'Yeah, they're not all that different from me.'
Really. Right? Maybe they're just bigger, they're older, but I could be like them if I try and you need those role models. Right.
I think role models are hugely important. The aspirational opportunity, I noticed a teacher saying to the children of the class today, in fact she said, 'Oh, we've got an ex student who's going to come and talk to you about her profession.' And these are to little year four kids. And she was like it was lovely the way she said, 'When she's talking, perhaps you'd like to think about what you might be doing. Like you might be doing what she's doing when you are older. And one day you might come back and tell us about, tell the children what you used to do.' And I just thought it was that lovely connection that that teacher had with those children in that moment, because you sort of feel slightly, oh, wow. That's the thing, isn't it? That persons coming to talk. It doesn't matter what job they do. It's just the idea that you are sewing the seed of opportunity. And-
That's a purpose to learn.
So I guess as a parent, you can try to orchestrate as well those scenarios where your children will run into people who they might aspire to become. Right? And maybe even point out to them, 'Hey, you could be that person when you're a grown up.'
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