Friday, January 27, 2012

What Motivates Learning

Learning is the acquisition of knowledge through experience, practice, or study, but what motivates people to learn? According to Dan Pink what motivates people is thinking. 

Autonomy, as Dan states, is the desire to be self-directed. When people are self-directed, they are engaged. When they are told what to do, they merely comply. You see this in education. If a child is given more freedom to explore, they amaze us. 

When my children were 9 and 12-years old they liked the television show iCarly. Over Christmas break, they told me that they wanted to make their own television show, so I told them to go up to their library and come up with an idea. 

After my spinal cord injury in 2005, we learned a lot about neuroscience as a family, so they decided to create something on the brain. Before I knew it, they had built a website and came up with a program to teach other kids about the brain. We later filed for NeuroKids Foundation (they came up with the name and designed the logo). 

Their adventures in neuroscience were many: newspaper articles, television appearances, appearances on Radio Disney, and interviews with scientists around the world. It just goes to show, give kids some autonomy and they'll amaze you. 

At this time, they began questioning the origins of genius and whether or not it could be developed in the brain. In Susan Polgar's case, it would seem that genius can be cultivated. If there is an element of genius in every human brain, irrespective of what subject matter that genius is unleashed upon, it can come out under individually tailored (according to strengths) or self-directed learning activities. 

My children asked me for the opportunity to explore this concept.

I said yes...

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