Our Innate Desire to Learn
Recently I have been loving to see our Scholars students’ desire for excellence and more knowledge expressed in their taking and re-taking of our “Countries-of-the-World Monster test.” This year we have delved into World Geography in a variety of ways, one being the challenge to learn the location of EVERY country in our world…being able to identify EVERY country on a blank map. Each student has taken on the challenge in such an eager way!
We have used some great online programs, tutorials, puzzles and games in order to practice. We have an entire-wall-sized world map, several atlases and globes, individual maps, etc. from which the students have practiced ….and have made up games and searches. But my favorite activity has been the student coaching sessions. Students sign up as a tutor for a continent that they “know” and then teach others who sign up for help. Their enthusiasm, variety of teaching methods, patience and persistence has been delightful to witness as they huddle together pouring over these countries, groups of islands, and all the country-“stans” of Eastern Europe! And the “learners” have put their ALL into the sessions, too. There has been a spirit of comradery, a not-settling-for-anything-but-excellence attitude, and a tangible pursuit for knowledge that has been palpable. It has refueled my belief that EVERY one of us has an innate desire to learn and grow…for the finished product, yes, but also for the journey, the path to learn, the desire to be one with the energy of learning new things…of being involved with the process. It feels at times that we ARE the learning, the knowledge, the passion for improvement and the gaining of information!
Several students (after MUCH preparation) mastered (meaning reaching at least 85% accuracy) the FIRST time they took the test, ranging anywhere from 85% – 98% accuracy. What an achievement to know the location of 269 countries in the world and be able to fill in an absolutely blank map. Wow! But even better, all but one student wanted to take it again so that they could get 100%. It has been so evident that this is not a contest between students for the highest scores, but within each individual to prove something to him/herself. Somehow, we have been able to tap into their innate desire to know, to achieve, to do their best ….and we ALL feel invigorated.
“Tapping in”, expecting greatness, nurturing excellence, regenerating what is ALREADY within each of us seems to be the KEY to a potent learning atmosphere ….one that then maintains itself. It is exciting to be a part of this and to keep finding more ways to open our environment to the blooming and blossoming of us all.
written by Tien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together, Director/Lead Instructor