Help kids discover joy of learning

Cultivating a joy for learning and an enterprising spirit is not just the job of the Ministry of Education but also that of every member of society (More being done to instil joy of learning, enterprising spirit; July 26).

Parents, in particular, should help their children develop a passion for learning so that their children will become self-directed learners.

All major learning revolves around self-learning. As educator Barry J. Zimmerman put it: "Learning is not something that happens to students; it is something that happens by students."

It is unfortunate that some parents, educators and schools are not developing a culture of learning where children learn how to learn.

By forcing students to absorb content knowledge, these adults become gatekeepers rather than gateways to help children find inspiration and motivation for improving themselves.

Fundamentally, students need to know that the pursuit of knowledge does not have to be dependent on any person, task, situation or environment.

Self-motivation can be learnt and developed. It can be controlled, even when students don't feel like doing anything and even under adverse conditions.

For example, they can learn to develop a healthy conversation with themselves.

Instead of saying "It's hard and can't be done", they can ask themselves "How can it be done?" or "How can I tackle it one step at a time?".

What they say to themselves and their behaviour will influence their attitude, cognition, emotion and actions.

By having healthy goals, positive self-esteem and empowering self-talk and reinforcements, students can lay the foundation to become self-regulated learners and pacesetters in the future economy.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2018, with the headline 'Help kids discover joy of learning'. Print Edition | Subscribe