“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.” ~ Socrates
Socrates is widely regarded as one of the greatest teachers of all time. He devoted himself to free-wheeling discourse with the aristocratic youth of Athens, insistently questioning their unwarranted confidence in the truth of popular opinions of the time and instilling a foundational love of learning. As parents, we too can foster this love of learning in our kids.
I believe that finding sustainable joy in life is much easier when we live a life of ongoing learning. As we learn new things, we transform ourselves and develop new skills, change our attitudes, and find new things to be passionate about. Learning isn't something we do as young adults to ensure economic or career success, it's a lifelong pursuit that helps us navigate our ever-changing world. This is why KIDmandment #6 is Love to Learn!
It Starts With A Conversation
How can we encourage our kids to develop a love of learning? By setting the example ourselves! When we are curious and engaged with the world around us, our kids learn to behave in the same way. It begins by talking with our kids about their everyday experiences in life. These conversations help us create a dialogue and better understand each others’ viewpoints, interests, and dreams.
These seemingly small, everyday conversations set our kids up for a lifetime of positive growth as a result of awareness of their surroundings and willingness to explore and question them. Answering their questions or better yet helping them find the answers for themselves, fosters self-respect and a sense of accomplishment through learning. These conversations are especially important when our kids are very young. As The American Academy of Pediatrics says,
“Parental conversations with their children affect the child’s future verbal talents and have maximal effect during the first six years of life.”
Teaching our kids to love to learn is simple. Try going home tonight and asking them to share what they learned today. The kid with the best idea gets to choose a family activity or what to have for dessert. After they tell you what they learned, you can tell them about something you learned today. For example, a guy at my office lost his job today — not because he was a bad guy but because the job outgrew him. Let these experiences serve as teaching moments: the main reason why we believe in ongoing learning is because it provides so much energy and excitement to continue to grow but another reason is to keep this from happening to us.
Learning doesn't just happen at school, and parents are our kids best teachers. By their very nature, children are born with an eagerness to learn. There can be just as much educational value in everyday activities, such as doing a craft project at home or going to the grocery store, as there is in visiting a museum or library. All it takes is a little planning ahead and a willingness to make learning fun. As kids get older, their interests and aptitudes change, so the responsibilities we give them continue to grow and allow them to learn increasingly complex lessons.
Through these everyday experiences, we can teach our kids to take charge of their lives by setting goals and taking action to achieve them. As parents, it's part of our job to help them identify the subjects, sports, or creative outlets that are interesting to them and engage them in the goal setting process. That could be getting an A on a geometry test, hitting a home run, or learning to play a classical piece on the violin. When kids have success in an activity that is fulfilling to them, the joy of learning becomes real to them. They learn to enjoy the journey and not just the destination.
Learning to Handle Failure
“A good education is not so much one which prepares a man to succeed in the world, as one which enables him to sustain a failure.”
- Bernard Iddings Bell
Failure is a part of life, and as I've written previously,
“We don't always succeed at the roles we play. Sometimes the role isn't right for us, isn't on our path, or sometimes a role just isn't well suited to our unique talents and abilities. But just because we fail at a particular role doesn't mean we fail as people. Learning the resilience to deal with failure comes from the ability to gain and assimilate knowledge.“
When we hit a road bump in life, it's crucial that we are able to pick ourselves up and keep going. A love of learning means that we enjoy continually improving ourselves and see failure as an opportunity for development, not as a reason to stop trying. For this reason alone, loving to learn is a super power!
Nurturing the joy of learning for its own sake is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child. A life without joy is hardly a life worth having. Finding lasting, sustainable joy in life is much easier when we live a life of continued learning.
If we want our children to thrive in the complex world we live in, we must teach them to obtain, assimilate, and apply knowledge effectively. One important way to do this is for us to set an example by serving as role models of continual learning. By continue to develop ourselves and apply ourselves to the things we are passionate about, we provide a model for a lifelong love of learning!
How do you continue to learn and grow in your life? Share by tweeting @JeffOddo!