Curiosity and Enthusiasm Based Learning
Humans are designed to learn. Young children’s curiosity and will to learn lead them to explore their world. SelfDesign refers to this mode of learning as “Curiosity & Enthusiasm.” For young children, this is their primary domain of learning. This kind of learning has no end, no goal. A young child may paint to experience the process of painting, without any regard for the end product.
Even after other modes of learning become relevant for older learners, the ability to play and remain curious is extremely important for continued growth and development. Sir Isaac Newton said, “To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.” And Albert Einstein said, “I have no special gift. I am only passionately curious.”
Curiosity as parents will help us to understand our children and help them to know themselves. River Meyer, in The SelfDesigning Path course, says, “When we share wonder or laughter with our child, we stand alongside her, and hand in hand we walk the path toward strong relationship. Our questions along the way support our child in learning who she is; we bring her out, making her visible to herself by calling to her consciousness the processes and intriguing qualities that are uniquely hers.”
In what ways do you nurture your own curiosity and enthusiasm? Can you allow your children to be your guides in this learning mode?
Take a moment to observe children under the age of five. What do you notice? Typically they are curious, filled with wonder and delight. They meander along picking flowers, telling stories, chasing birds. Intense emotions come quickly, are released, and then it’s back to joyful explorations. Children’s eyes shine brightly and twinkle as they laugh, play, and learn about the world and their place in it.
For young children, we fully expect that they need to move their bodies, wander from one thing to the next, and get messy. Around the age of five, expectations shift. There is an assumption that children need to learn to sit still and focus their attention outside of themselves. Now, stop and look at children around the age of eight. Often times, they are in what I call the “3rd grade daze.” Their attention to the present moment has been dulled. Much of their learning has been disembodied. The light in many children’s eyes is beginning to diminish.
What could be possible if we released expectations of children to become mini-adults? What if they could blossom naturally as the amazing young beings that they are?
Attuning to the learner
An important mode of learning, and one often overlooked in conventional education, is Mentoring. How do you choose a mentor for your child or for yourself? Although we do want a mentor to model excellence, attunement is just as important as competence. According to Dan Siegel, attunement is the conscientious attending to the other and “focuses attention on the inner world of another.”
One of the fundamental conditions of SelfDesign is that both mentors and learners mutually choose to work with each other. Competence in the skill or subject area is only one criteria for being the optimal mentor. The other requirement is attunement. As Brent Cameron said in his PhD thesis, “The purpose of a SelfDesign mentor relationship then is for the mentor or guide to attune to the learner in such a way so they are working with both the inside and outside realms of the individual.”
The mentor who works best for you or your child is a mentor who pays attention to the emotional process of learning. There is attunement between the learner and the mentor. As you choose mentors for yourself and your children, view it as a process. Be willing to try many mentors until you find a mentor who is competent and attuned to you or your child.