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Why people learn things

Why people learn things

People usually learn things because they need to. They are either frustrated by something in themselves or the world. Maybe they're not making enough money to support their family, or a loved one is sick. 

In these cases, they're entering a survival mode where they're urged to action. While survival mode learning can be effective, it is not sustainable or enjoyable in the long run.

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People are capable of extraordinary feats of learning

If we want an educated citizenry that enjoys learning and knows how to take advantage of all the available information on the internet, we need to inspire people.

Education and learning theorists propose that students learn best when it is associated with strong positive emotions. But stress, boredom, confusion, low motivation and anxiety can interfere with learning.

Schools have become stress incubators and condition students to associate learning with unpleasantness. Schools value rote memorization over people's ability to take action and to learn for the sake of knowing.

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Learning for the sake of learning

Learning for the sake of learning

We can move to a system of inspiration by inverting the learning process. Instead of starting with the building blocks and moving towards curiosity, students should be guided by curiosity and then move toward the building blocks. 

The benefits of memorization will become self-evident, and the motivation to learn can become intrinsic. However, the sad truth is that this way of learning is not scalable for an in-person curriculum where students must do the same thing at the same time.

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How to produce inspired learners

Schools should embrace entertainment because it lets you scale inspiration. 

Entertainment is not amusement. Entertainment means engaging a person's attention in a way that makes the time pass pleasantly. The ancient Greeks knew this intuitively and wrapped their most important ideas in narratives instead of just giving dry facts.

For example, plays like The Iliad and The Odyssey weren't just a form of entertainment. They provided cultural instruction too. 

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Modern masters of storytelling

In our modern world, the masters of storytelling come from Hollywood and YouTube. These creators use many of the same tools the Greeks discovered. 

But now it costs nearly nothing to spread great entertainment and education to the world.

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Teachers have a responsibility to entertain

Teachers have a responsibility to entertain

Favourite teachers usually care about their subjects and speak with excitement and enthusiasm.

Physicist Richard Feynman was known for making physics come alive for many people. Watching his lectures inspires one to study physics. From Feynman, we've learned that education starts with inspiration.

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Get out of my lawn. You are distrubing my learning.

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