Peter Ackroyd said on Radio 4 this weekend, “I developed a love of learning at an early age”.
He talked about how much he enjoys researching for his various books, which demonstrates his continued love of learning. His writing is simply the end product of the process of becoming an expert on various subjects.
One of the methods that I used as a teacher to foster a love of learning was to play a ‘game’ I called ‘Experts’. Children could work independently, or in pairs, or in larger syndicates, to research self-chosen topics and then present their new-found expertise in the form of class lectures, or in video documentaries, or in self-made books.
After a while the most-requested class activities were either ‘writing workshop’ (which was a time for free and personal writing) and ‘the experts game’. Obviously self-chosen reading was also a built-in part of every day. As was a read-aloud time. An emphasis on enjoyment and meaningful activity is clearly a major part of developing a love of learning, and a love of literacy, for its own sake.
The idea for the Experts game came from my own experience in Primary school. My one cherished memory of that phase of my schooling was being asked to find out everything I could about something I was interested in, and then give a short talk to the class on the topic. For some weird reason I chose termites.
We now need to ask – how many schools and how many teachers make a love of learning their highest priority? How many keep track of whether their pupils seem to have (or not have) a love of learning for its own sake? How many even care whether their pupils love learning? And what strategies do schools have, as part of their teaching and learning policy, to develop a love of learning? How many have a teaching and learning policy? How many regard it as their school’s failure if their pupils fail to develop a love of learning?
“I have this need to constantly find fresh fields of thought,” said Mr Ackroyd.
He said he has ‘a spiritual view of the world’. He’s not a religious person, but neither is he a secularist. It seems he has an inkling of Spiritual Intelligence, even though it’s a fairly nebulous and non-specific understanding. He was brought up as a Catholic, but no longer worships God. It’s not clear whether Mr Ackroyd agrees there are lots of religious people who are low in spiritual intelligence, or that there are lots of secular people who are high in spiritual intelligence. Clearly he’s not alone in this.