3 Conditions to Consider in Finding Joy in Learning

I found this quote from Susan Fowler’s book, “Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work . . . and What Does” fascinating in the context of education, learning, and school;

So a few thoughts on this quote for my reflection.

  1. In what parts of my own life do I find “joy” in the struggle of learning?
  2. Where do I despise the “struggle” of learning?
  3. What is the difference between the two experiences above for myself?

Thinking about the answer to question three, I find there are a few elements that matter.

One is that I have found some success in my growth.  This is where the idea of “flow” comes in from Mihály Csíkszentmihály:

Flow is an optimal psychological state that people experience when engaged in an activity that is both appropriately challenging to one’s skill level, often resulting in immersion and concentrated focus on a task. This can result in deep learning and high levels of personal and work satisfaction.

When I am challenged, but also find success, I am more likely to stick with things.

The second aspect of purpose.  Is the learning I am doing connect to something bigger, and do I see a personal connection to my interests.

And the last aspect I think about is regarding support I receive when I am learning something new or struggling.  Is there someone or somewhere I can turn to when I struggle?  When I think about this in the context of education and leadership, I know there are many mentors in my life that I can turn to when I have questions, or I am trying something new.  Outside of education, there are many times that I know I can connect to resources online that will help some of my learning. For example, when I am playing video games and struggling to get through a specific part, I often check out YouTube or forums for help to get me past certain levels. Tapping into both people and resources we have access to is crucial to supporting our growth.

So, in summary, when I find joy in my learning, I know I have achieved some past success (flow), I feel purpose in my learning, and I know that I have supports I need to help me grow.  If we focus on these three conditions for learning in school, what joy would that bring to our classrooms for not only our students but the adults as well?

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