To many of us, learning something new, from programming a webpage or speaking a new language is a chore. Yes, there are these little sparks of achievement. But more often than not, the process of learning is a strenuous path of pain and frustration.
We don’t like to admit it. But let’s be honest for a second.
How many things you learned in school or college were wildly fascinating and how many were drenched in blood, sweat and tears?
Most people will answer that for each topic they found interesting and even enjoyed studying, there are three to five others they hated!
This is nothing new.
We’re quick to rationalize and say: “That’s life. Some things you just have to do, whether you like it or not.”
But what’s the ratio here?
Is life 80% must and 20% want?
It’s not that easy, obviously, because we train ourselves to want what we must.
Let me explain…
Doing What We Want vs. Wanting What We Want
In order to reach a goal, e.g. being a doctor and helping people, you’ll have to go through the inconvenient business of cutting up cadavers and filling your head with heavy vocabulary and procedures – not exactly everyone’s cup of tea.
If your willpower and motivation are strong enough, you’ll chew stones, but are you going to enjoy your studies by sheer brute force?
The imperative of “willpower” seems overrated. According to hard-core proponents of the “if you want, you can do anything” philosophy, the world must be full of powerless schmucks. People just have to want and off they go. Right?
It all starts with interest.
Everyone has something they’re interested in, whether it’s the complexities of planetary climate, collectible action figures or dazzling graffiti. It doesn’t have to be something fancy or useful. If it’s really interesting to you, it’s more than useful!
Personal interests are the root of an interest-driven approach to learning. Obvious, isn’t it?
Going through things you hate in order to reach a goal makes learning a means to an end.
Being deeply interested in something and soaking up everything you can find about it makes learning an end in itself, which makes the learning both more effective and enjoyable!
A large part of our (educational) world still works on the principle of “no pain, no game” but that doesn’t mean we have to dance to its piping.
The Transformative Power Of Keen Interests
In my personal life people always told me I should do this or that because it will give me money, security, etc. And it actually took me more than ten years to disregard these well-meaning but ultimately misleading advice and instead commit myself fully to my own interests (i.e. language [learning], design and technology).
To describe the payoff of such a commitment in very short way: it’s a kind of satisfaction no money can buy. And it enabled me to make a living from what I love.
This principle of interest-driven learning is also at the heart of my experimental publications for German learners. I’m not in the business of creating text book after text book that will torture people with tables of rules and irregularities.
Instead, I try to stir people’s interest in the language by letting them experience it. Whether that always works, I don’t know, hence the “experimental” part, but according to the feedback I receive people are really grateful to leave their dry training plans and dive right into the language itself.
One of my recent projects which I’m very excited about is a detective story for German learners, actually, it’s already the second part in a series that will probably grow even more in the future.
In a few days I’ll give away the first chapter for free to everyone on our German ebooks newsletter. If you are interested you can sign up for it for free, find out more here, watch the trailer video below, or if you have friends who are struggling with the mother-tongue of Brecht and Einstein, send them a link and my best regards.
photo above: Some rights reserved by thekellyscope