How to Ignite a Desire to Learn

It is an adult tendency to focus on “What” before we think about “Who”. This tendency takes us further away from a way of being that helps us build relationships, and success in both personal and professional ways. When we think about “What” we, by default, focus our thoughts on technical aspects of whatever it is we are thinking about. When we think about “Who”, we immediately sense emotional connection or disconnection.

When we can identify “Who” in any situation, this leads to potential inspiration for ourselves and others.

Below are some concrete examples of how to use this in any “classroom”. This is all about connecting with learners in ways which ignite a desire for them to learn.

Recognizing HUGE opportunities in SMALL moments

Many times in my work with learners of all ages, there comes a moment where I have asked a question and it is followed by silence. I call this the sound of thinking and I’ve described this in earlier blogs on my public speaking site. What I haven’t yet shared is this:

In moments of silence, what we choose to say with our body language and with our words are critical.

In these moments, I quite often find myself:

  • Slowly looking around

  • Smiling in a subtle way

  • Raising my eyebrows in an inviting, somewhat light-hearted manner

I allow for quite some time to pass before I speak. Once I do, I quite often find myself saying:

  • Take your time

  • I’m interested in knowing what you’re thinking

  • I really enjoy it when you take the time to think

This is just one example of how there is great opportunity in small, seemingly mundane situations. I love to seek opportunities which allow me to model that I care about who my students, colleagues and friends are. I want them to know that I am sincerely interested in their minds. Once they realize this, on a consistent basis, the quality of “What” we co-create elevates greatly!

Being ok with “I don’t know” and how powerful that can be

Another adult tendency is not wanting to look uninformed. We want to be good models for our students, and we sometimes think that “not knowing” is an example of being a weak guide, when if fact it can be an incredible strength.  Here is one example.

My son and I are starting a business together, a food truck that will address areas of town where people don’t have any healthy food option, known as food deserts. Recently, my son Nick asked me a number of questions. I had some ideas for about half of them. For the other half, I said, “I don’t know” followed by some potential ideas.

This lead to:

  • A set of authentic conversations with my son.

  • To us exploring options.

  • Reaching to other more informed people, some of who became either partners or very supportive of our idea.

Next time you don’t know, own it, and begin to ask relevant questions.