During the time that I spent reflecting on Chapter 4, a question kept popping into my head. What causes one to develop a desire to learn? This may sound like a question that could be answered with ones common knowledge but what I am looking to find out goes much deeper. So far in Bel Canto we have been introduced to many characters that have clearly invested a lot of time in something that evokes a sense of passion and have continued to pursue. Some examples include….
Roxane Coss: Singing
Gen: Knowledge of Language
Hosokawa: Listening/ attending the Opera
Tetsuya Kato: Playing the Piano
After a fair amount of research, I was able to take a closer look at what actually creates the need for a person desiring knowledge about a particular matter. The first along with the most manifest element that motivates learning is a person’s interest. Paul Silvia of the University of North Carolina defines interesting as “material that is novel, complex, and comprehensible.” When one becomes overly enthralled by a subject matter, there is a drive that pushes that person to know more. George Loewenstein, a professor of economic and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University found that, “when attention becomes focused on a gap in one’s knowledge, such information gaps produce the feeling of deprivation labeled as curiosity. The curious individual is motivated to obtain the missing information to reduce or eliminate the feeling of deprivation.” (Paul) This is simply due to the fact that when interested in a task, people are willing to work harder and persist until they are satisfied with their progress. A study performed at the University of Wisconsin found that when a person finds a passionate interest, it could allow him or her to overcome academic difficulties that would arise when learning about a topic that is not interesting to that specific person. I can personally agree with their findings due to classes I have taken thus far in my college career. A lot of the classes that are included in the general education requirement here at UNC Charlotte failed to capture my interests but now that I am fully immersed into my major, the courses I am taking are closely associated with my interests. (Paul)
The next element that is necessary to generate interest is a sense of curiosity. Earlier I mentioned George Loewenstien’s theory about the gap in ones knowledge; he went on to publish “The Psychology of Curiosity” and stated that curiosity is the engine of intellectual achievement and is what drives us to keep learning, trying, and pushing forward. (Murphy) His theory helps to explain that curiosity is not only a mental state but also a form of emotion. Curiosity is a potent motivator that is powerful in a way that keeps us moving forward in attempt to find the information that will fill the gap of knowledge. However, according to Daniel Willingham, a cognitive scientist, people get so eager to fill the gap that there isn’t a sufficient amount of time spent figuring out what exactly a persons question is. (Murphy) This goes back to reflection and not jumping right into something. These blog posts are an excellent example of that Willingham is trying to convey. Each week we choose a topic of interest and in order to effectively complete the assignment it is necessary to take a step back and do prior research on the topic before jumping right in to the writing portion.
Traditionally the two traits used to describe the golden keys to future achievement are intelligence and effort. This may be a popular belief but Hell and Chamorro-Premuzic, owners of the paper Von Strumm, say that there is another element that needs to be taken into consideration, curiosity. (Jenkins) Brain plasticity research has proven that by finding strong existing neural pathways an thought patterns, a connection can be made between the two creating a new thought pattern. An example of this would be a student who is not fond of math but has a strong sense of curiosity for space and the solar system. With that being said, by integrating outer space into a math problem, the student would be more likely to enjoy and learn the concepts being taught in his math class. (Jenkins)
With all of this being said, I was able to conclude that when learning or doing something that has passion behind of it, it is indeed an intrinsically motivated task. This means that a person is motivated by internal factors and actually enjoys what he or she is doing whether it be for fun or just because it is the right thing to do.
Jenkins, Bill. “The Curious Mind: Interest, Drive, and the Road to Academic Success.” Scientific Learning. 13 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 Sept. 2015. <http://www.scilearn.com/blog/interest-drive-road-to-academic-success>.
Murphy, Annie. “How to Stimulate Curiosity.” TIME. 15 Apr. 2013. Web. 22 Sept. 2015. <http://ideas.time.com/2013/04/15/how-to-stimulate-curiosity/>.
Paul, Annie. “How the Power of Interest Drives Learning.”KQED. 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 21 Sept. 2015. <http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/11/04/how-the-power-of-interest-drives-learning/>.