On Tuesday, a few of our early years’ classes celebrated ‘100 days of learning in 2018’. Whilst presenting the 100-day celebration certificates in Pre-Primary, one of the students remarked that the teachers were also celebrating 100 days of learning.
This statement had me reflecting on learning and the notion of being a lifelong learner and what that learning looks like and does it really change whether you’re five years old or 105 years old. Is it the mathematical skills we master? Is it what happens when we learn to speak and communicate with others? Is it perhaps demonstrated in our ability to reason scientifically? Or, could it be the geographical knowledge we acquire? I believe it’s all that and more … what we learn in the classroom is only one type of learning. There are so many other opportunities to further our knowledge and develop the skills we need throughout life.
One of the definitions for ‘lifelong learning’ is the desire to learn … always and forever throughout life. It’s the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge and skills for either personal or professional reasons; it’s the vehicle for enabling potential … whatever that may be.
Simply put, a love of learning is a love of growth and forward movement, something which is invaluable in any area of life. This quality is also a great predictor of success; more so than grades, test scores, or other “academic” factors. It’s clear, helping our children develop a passion for knowledge can give them a great tool for creating their future. But how exactly do we help them develop it?
One of the fundamental elements of lifelong learning is fostering curiosity. The more curious we are about the world, the more we experience and learn. The more we experience and learn, the more connections our brains make. And with more connections, we can potentially find new solutions to problems or see things which possibly, no one else can see.
Curiosity means our minds are actively engaged.
People who have curious minds, ask questions. It’s a mind that reflects, reasons, considers and grows. We see children do this all the time, they problem solve in the sandpit, they work out new ways of constructing the bridge, they’re not afraid of failing. They often see FAILure as the First Attempt In Learning; it’s another step in the learning process … it’s progress, not failure. The story goes that as an inventor, Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."
Curiosity helps us to observe and think deeply.
When we are curious, we identify and consider different ideas. We think about things differently and try new things. Galileo Galilei's curiosity led him to the discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun. And for this, he was nearly burned at the stake! Where would we be if it wasn’t for his ‘revolutionary idea’?
Curiosity helps us open to a whole new world of possibilities.
People who have curious minds challenge the status quo, they give things a ‘red hot go’, they look for new and innovative ways of overcoming a challenge. They explore and inquire. They ask questions.
So, how do we encourage curiosity, the love of learning and developing a continual hunger for learning?
Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
Let’s strive for staying young; for inquiring, engaging in lifelong learning and for fostering curiosity in our children and ourselves.