Prompted by this post at A Blue Flavored Blog, Lifehacker asked its readers about how they motivate themselves to continue learning once they finish school. Plenty of interesting responses, but it got me thinking less about myself, and more about how I can pass a desire for lifelong learning to my kids. (I'm feeling myself getting into back-to-school mode.)
We ask a lot of questions in our house ("Why do you think that rosebush has thorns?" "What will happen if you go to sleep with that rubber band wrapped around your finger?"), and we're enthusiastic about lots of topics and experiences. We're constantly Googling for answers and Flickring for pictures. I don't doubt our kids see how much we enjoy learning new things. But how do we get them to want to learn when the learning is hard?
I like to think of myself as an intellectually curious person, but I tend to gravitate toward projects and activities where the learning curve isn't so steep. In other words, I'm a safe learner; I go for the stuff I'm pretty sure I'll be good at. And yet, when I think back on the most mentally stimulating times in my life — the times when my learning shot through the roof — they were generally the times when I was out of my element and uncomfortable.
Learning to love (or at least work with) challenges is one of the keys to a good, productive life. As much as I know this, it's hard to sit back and watch my kids grapple with discomfort. Grapple they must — I KNOW this — it's just hard to know when the grappling is becoming something truly painful, possibly even traumatic. When to jump in and help? When to hang back and let them figure it out? One of the hardest calls as a parent.
My point? None, really, just food for thought, and hopefully for discussion. How do you foster in your kids a love of learning and/or tolerance for challenges?