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Learning Is The Basis For Any Society’s Evolution

Learning Is the Basis For Any Society’s Evolution

Alex Terego | Author

If people do not learn then, the organization within which they operate cannot evolve. This is true for large organizations with global reach such as the United Nations, and the same is true for a family unit: and every kind of organization in between. It is also true of an individual: if a person does not learn, they do not evolve.

Most of us are naturally curious and want to learn. However, if we can see an obvious and immediate benefit of learning, then we will be even keener to learn. We know this because teens happily study for a driver’s license since that is what it takes to learn how to drive a car; and because they intuitively know that driving means more independence and adventure and that way lies happiness. Conversely, if we cannot see the benefit of learning, it becomes a chore.

thinking brain abstract drawingThe pleasure-pain principle is universal. We all respond to stimuli that are pleasurable and avoid stimuli that are painful. “The instinctual seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain satisfies biological and psychological needs.” Freud.

Since these instincts are programmed into our behaviors, it would seem counter-productive to make anything that we actually want to encourage people to do painful. For example – LEARNING. It would be much better for our society if our students saw learning as a psychologically pleasurable, experience not a painful one.

We don’t do that, however. We don’t make learning pleasurable. We make it a painful chore. The evidence for this conclusion is that the majority of teachers and high school students are essentially turned off. https://www.edcircuit.com/are-american-schools-the-newest-black-swan/

Here is my thesis: Promises of rewards largely stop working in high school. After middle school student participation and psychological investment in learning plummets to FORTY-FOUR PERCENT, as reported by U.S. News & World Report, Student Engagement Nosedives in High School. That’s over five and a half million students for whom high school is largely irrelevant.

  • Ordering someone to do something carries the implicit threat – OR ELSE!
  • Persuading someone to do something has to contain a different and more humane message – REWARD!
  • What to do when persuading someone through rewards (bribery) stops working, but when we know that       rewards work?
  • Reward them through persuasion.
How to Persuade Students

Robert Cialdini, a psychology professor at Arizona State University, suggests we turn for ideas to Pascal and Socrates. “Pascal argued people are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others. And Socrates pioneered this approach. He was famous for persuading others to come into line with his thinking by simply asking them questions. It was those answers that created significant change because they came from inside his audience, not from Socrates himself.” Conclusion: get students to discover their own reasons for learning in a group of their peers.

The messenger matters also. “A messenger who is a third party is not as effective as one who shares common values and perspective,” says Professor Bradley Love of UCL. Conclusion: students will listen to other students rather than third parties.

So, to make learning more pleasurable, it is important that learners discover the value of what they are doing by mutual inquiry among their peers.

This is an enormous opportunity to have millions of students make up their own mind about why they should study. Click HERE to see a 7 minute narrated video demonstrating how you can get your students to examine their individual “Why” of learning.

Alex Terego. After 40 successful years in the hi-tech business, during which he participated in all phases of computing, beginning with IBM and culminating in selling his voice mail company, Alex became an early thought-leader in 21st Century skills development. He developed his Terego Method™ when teaching Critical Thinking at the Thunderbird School of Global Management and the Eller Graduate School of Business at the University of Arizona.

The program is now available at no cost for schools. Click to see this narrated video It is an investment of seven minutes of your time to discover how you can teach students to think for themselves and in teams.

Follow me on Twitter @alex_terego

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