Salman Ansari Menschen · Natur · Leben · Literatur · Musik


Lifelong Learning – Stimulating Knowledge

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As we move towards a knowledge-based society, it is never too early to start promoting children’s learning. Or so you might think. Yet education specialist Salman Ansari takes a very different view: he argues that education is basically useless unless the acquisition of knowledge is fueled by natural curiosity.

A person’s eagerness to learn and gain new experiences is more pronounced in early childhood than at any other stage of life. The driving force behind this thirst for knowledge is curiosity, or inquisitiveness; a craving for all things new, a desire better to understand ourselves and the world at large and to explore our own limits. To maintain this sense of curiosity, it is important to encourage this appetite for discovery and stimulate the imagination, to strengthen and develop the personality, to impart knowledge to children in a way that is appropriate for their age and – above all – to link new insights to previously acquired knowledge. How to keep curiosity alive over an entire lifetime is a burning question in our ever more complex society. Nowadays, the skills we acquire at and in training are no longer anywhere near sufficient for making sense of our increasingly extended working lives. The assertion that the foundations for lifelong learning must be laid at an early stage therefore requires no further explanation, nor does the fact that we all have a natural inclination to learn. What does require an explanation, however, is what prevents us from learning, what makes us reluctant to go to school and weakens our sense of curiosity. This is an issue that concerns the quality of our learning environment.

Grasping concepts

There is a direct link between a child’s learning and the application of acquired knowledge. Children who devote themselves to the painstaking process of learning to walk, for example, will practice this activity tirelessly until they have mastered it. It would never occur to a child to suddenly give up, however man failed attempts are made in the process. Any offers of help from adults are often vehemently refused. There are plenty of similar examples that illustrate this point. Learning is initially based on sensory experiences: children are eager to understand, feel, touch, smell and listen – and they want to try out all these things in their own way and at their own pace. Adult intervention is often perceived as disruptive and can lead to excessive levels of anxiety and demoralization in the long run.

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