Are you a self-motivated learner?

During a session today with fellow school leaders we brainstormed several ways to measure whether a student is a motivated learner. Our discussion left me thinking, "What normally motivates our students to learn?"
  • A and B grades?
  • Parents?
  • Cultural values?
  • College acceptance?

How can we send our 12th grade students into the world as SELF-MOTIVATED learners? Learners who do not need carrots and sticks to motivate them.

In 2010 I had the privilege of spending three days with learning expert Dr. Jim Knight at the University of Kansas (KU). On Jim's blog, Radical Learners, he describes learning as "not just something we do as a means to an end; it is as central to living a healthy life as breathing, eating, and drinking. Learning is not what we do; learning is who we are."

Learning is not just a means to an end. We shouldn't only be motivated to learn because:
  • Our grades depend on it,
  • Our parents demand it, 
  • Our culture values it, or
  • Acceptance into a top college requires it.

We should pursue learning because we love it, and we need it to survive, to thrive. We pursue learning because we intrinsically believe learning and growing are good.

According to Jim Knight, learners:
  • believe we are here on earth to learn, so they are turned on by every chance they get to discover something new
  • use technology to learn, or to teach others (and because it’s cool)
  • have mentors and mentor others
  • infect everybody with their love of learning

As educators, we are in the learning business. Yes, we ask students to learn new knowledge and skills, but we must go deeper. How can we help students 'fall in love' with learning itself?

How does your school develop SELF-MOTIVATED learners?

Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.