Enthusiasm — It Makes Learning Stick!
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Have you ever thought about the part that enthusiasm plays in the learning process? I have noticed that when I’m interested in something, I learn it so much more easily than if I’m not enthused about the subject. Interest fosters attention and focuses the mind, making learning a truly delightful experience.
I witnessed enthusiasm in action on Saturday when I taught a lively group of teens how to write a timed essay for the SAT or ACT (at a Beat-the-Clock Essay Workshop). Throughout the four+ hour workshop, these delightful students remained focused and interested. There was so much participation that we could have gone on for at least another hour!
When the teens passed in their class evaluation forms at the end of the workshop, the comments were enthusiastic and positive. One teen, when asked what she liked about the workshop, wrote “Everything! I had a blast!”
Imagine that. Cooped up inside on a spring morning, writing timed essays, and she really had fun!
Another teen, in answer to the question about what could be improved, wrote “More essay writing.” Oh my — most teens who had to write two essays in a day would be more than ready to quit!
What was up with this group? I’ve taught this workshop in many places, and some groups are so quiet and unresponsive that we could easily trim the very same material by almost an hour. These students were so engaged and enthusiastic that the day just flew by (and no, I don’t think any of them are available for adoption!).
I don’t know the source of their enthusiasm — they were mostly, but not all, homeschooled high school students. They asked questions, they offered to read their essays aloud, they made the most of their time with me. And guess what? I’d be willing to bet that because they participated actively, they will remember what they learned.
Enthusiasm is a wonderful motivator, and if you can trigger your student’s interest, and encourage participation, the labor of learning is suddenly reduced. Enthusiasm makes learning fun!