Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Love of Learning

I have an announcement to make, everyone. I have found it - the solution to every education related problem there is.

OK, that's not exactly true. I don't say it will solve the issue of underpaid teachers, nor will it deliver books and paper to third world countries. It won't improve buildings, or save the rain forest, or notch up the public transit system. It won't give you the perfect principal, and it certainly won't do a thing for the quality of public school lunch.

But it does have great advantages. It WILL solve the problems of inattentive students, failing grades, and low test scores. It CAN make a great student out of a poor one. And what is this almighty solution, you ask? Well, here it comes... drum roll, please... The solution is:


Sorry if that was a bit of a disappointment. Think about it this way, though, and maybe you'll change your mind. Here is a list of frequently heard school-related complaints uttered by average male and female secondary education students in the vicinity of Wasatch County:

"This book is boring. All those classic books are."

"I'm getting a bad grade in math. My teacher hates me."

"This is stupid. Why do we have to do this?"

"What's the point?"

"I don't get it."

"Who cares?"

Those are the problems. I have told you the answer. Match it up with each statement on that list, and you will see it. Mind, I don't say that you have to love learning everything. If you are not a fan of reading classic books, so be it. It would do a lot of good to read them anyway, but I don't say you have to enjoy every word. I, for one, have a terrible grudge against learning math, as a result of a rather poor classroom experience in high school (slow learner, advanced class, bad combination).

I don't say that you have to love everything you learn - but I do say that you should love learning in general, and you should love at least one thing that you study. It can be most anything, and it doesn't have to be what you're going to do for the rest of your life. My father went into law in college, but he has never stopped learning and loving literature. My mother is a nurse, but never stopped playing the piano and improving her already practiced hand at craft projects. She even took up photography, and for years has had the pleasure of learning the ins and outs of her cameras. In the last six months I myself have taken up knitting, contemporary piano, blogging, a little harp, and some on-the-side Arabic. I become excited every time I knit a new stitch, teach myself a new song, sound out Arabic characters, or reverently place my hands on Katie's harp. None of the above have anything to do with my major - but I have loved learning them anyway. I have even grown to love the work that does have to do with my major - and that is what has made school not only bearable but the most enjoyable time of my life.

Besides the obvious, having a love for learning something has yet another advantage: it is entirely sharable. It's like I've said with love - knowledge, too, is something that can be infinitely given but never diminished. All of the subjects I listed above that I have been enjoying are the result of the tutelage of a friend. It is admirable to have a talent, but it is infinitely greater to have a talent and to be willing to share it with others. It is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give. My father taught me to love books, my mother taught me to love music and to play the piano - and I've haven't stopped since. They have filled my life with pleasure and fulfillment, and will doubtless continue to do so as long as I continue to cultivate them.

Imagine how the world would be if everyone had something to learn and love. Perhaps it would give our teachers an excitement in their classrooms, despite their low salaries. Perhaps learning could inspire someone to bring books and paper to third world countries. Perhaps it would produce architects and environmentalists and engineers who would give us better buildings and save the rain forest and discover renewable energy. And best of all, because those people loved what they had learned, they would perform their work at its best - as close to perfect as it can be. Just imagine - if everyone was able to make one improvement to the world they inhabit, no matter how small, how much could the world be changed for good?

Start now. Find what you love, and put it to use. A little change in you, or a little change you work in someone else, will be the first step. And maybe, if we all work at it together, we can change the world one step at a time.

Yours always - 'Til next time...

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