In my daughter I see a fervor to want to learn, to want to read, to want to know through endless questioning. "Why" is is normal for her to ask about everything. The intensity to understand the world around her is endless. Her desire to learn is contagious.
I thought about this. How contagious is learning for kids and adults? Is it easy to infect learning passion in students and ourselves? How do you motivate students to learn the standards? It's a tough thing to do. Literature abounds on the subject of motivation.
Contagious learning has much to do with ownership. If a person owns their learning they own their work. Recently I visited a STEM school in Parma. The science coach had said the group of educators who pushed to create this learning space worked really hard, and that in the next few years, when new teachers come into the program, everything will have been created. While there will be work to do to refine the program, learning spaces, and the STEM learning process the energy to make something out of nothing has dissipated. The new teachers coming in do not have that ownership, and the new educators will not understand what it took to get to a great learning space. There is a contagious energy with the founders that cannot be found in the others.
The students at this STEM school started a blast off activity which is an activity that sets the stage and creates internal energy to learn. They were given a problem to solve and worked through the design process. While the learning was based on standards the teachers at this school set the stage for contagious learning and it was inspiring to watch the students infect each other with learning energy.
Making learning contagious is to make it intriguing. Giving careful thought to how students engage with the content and standards is just as important as the standards and curriculum. A few ideas to make learning contagious.
3 tips for contagious learning
Immerse students in meaningful contexts. Every class has their own personality and teachers can leverage this to intrigue students.
Another suggestion is to give students a real audience to engage. Use ePals and Skype education to find other classrooms. Contact experts in a field of study and let students ask interview questions.
The third is to respect students as learners and people. Too often we assume students have difficulty learning if educators are not presenting information. Learners are expected to learn so give them the resources, set the expectations, and turn them loose.