Ask any educator why they chose to become an educator, and answers may include “To inspire the next generation,” “To impart learning on young minds,” or “To instill the love of learning in every child.” But what exactly is the love of learning, and can teachers instill it in their students?
The Positivity Project suggests that when a person masters new skills and topics on their own, they have expressed a love of learning. Bard College in New York calls out “the Love of Learning” on its website by posting, “Love of subject is measured by the extent to which a teacher spends time, of his or her own accord, working on scholarly endeavors in his or her chosen subject.”
Measuring the love of learning can be as easy as taking a personality test online. In 2003, a dissertation entitled “Defining and Measuring the Love of Learning” was published and represented an attempt to create a tool to measure the love of learning. There were weaknesses in the methodology, but evidence suggested it could be possible.
Montessori education is probably the best example of demonstrating the love of learning through how the classroom is designed and the students interact with the environment and their work. Many traditional classrooms attempt to allow students to personalize their learning journey but are often sidetracked by ensuring students are prepared for standardized assessments.
Instilling a Love of Learning
Instilling this love in our students can provide many benefits and have long-term effects on their future careers. A love of learning can:
- Increase curiosity
- Improve abilities
- Build courage
- Enable you to enjoy work more
- Encourage out-of-the-box thinking
- Provide a positive example to others
This list represents what can be seen in almost every lesson a great teacher presents, however, teachers building their greatness may need assistance.
Some ways to address the love of learning in the classroom might be to provide hands-on learning experiences within the lesson, enabling students to explore options and possibilities as they are challenged to solve a problem. Another may be to share your passions with your students and let them see how exciting it can be to have a passion for something that you strive to know more about daily.
Making learning fun sounds easy, but it has to be fun with intention, so finding interesting activities to incorporate in your lessons, or different approaches to introducing the subject matter, can be ways to liven up lessons. For example, Socratic seminars are taught through discussions to help engage the students in meaningful dialogue to increase curiosity and challenge thinking and can certainly make a lesson more interesting, especially on less dynamic topics.
Modeling the Love of Learning
Ultimately, the best way to encourage your students to love learning is to model your love for learning and teaching, and be supportive and encouraging as they struggle to master concepts.
John Miller’s recent book Love and Compassion speaks to educators attending to love and compassion through their teaching. It suggests that teachers can teach basic skills without love, except there must be love to make a real difference in a student’s life.
It is always important to remember that to love others, you must first love yourself, and, as teachers, we must love what we do. Teachers who feel loved exude love through their work, which affects all they come into contact with. Love is the major difference between teaching as an art and science. Let there be love!