Each of us has had the experience of learning something new and finding it easy. For some, learning about scientific theories comes easily and “just makes sense.” For others anything math may be fun, challenging and engaging. No two of us are exactly the same in these ways. I, for example, have learned about Greek and Roman gods many times…and I know very little. It’s not because I didn’t listen, read or do my assigned work. It’s simply because it doesn’t and never has interested me. Before you rush to judgment, think for a moment about what you have learned, perhaps multiple times, that you simply didn’t like learning. Now that you are an adult do you remember it? Do you know as much about that topic as you do about something that truly captured your imagination? Often it doesn’t matter how difficult the subject matter is. It’s about our engagement.
When asked to do something that is hard but that we find interesting or are good at, we don’t mind putting forth the effort, engaging in the challenge. However, when asked to put forth even a small amount effort toward something that does not interest us, we may find it incredibly difficult to do what is asked.
School provides incredible opportunities to learn a wide variety of subject matter. As Maria Montessori urged, we work hard to bring energy and excitement to all that we introduce to children in order to ignite their imaginations. As children experience the various topics, some find excitement in some areas that others would prefer to dismiss. In the end, learning is up to the learner. We provide the tools; they decide to use them. The key is offering enough opportunities to capture a child’s imagination and helping her to see the link between ideas to pull them in and encourage them to expend the effort needed to delve deeply into their work.