There’s always been a paradoxical recursion about teaching a teacher. What is a teacher anyway? And how does a teacher learn? What about the redundancy of the status of a teacher as a mere knowledge passer. If the teacher is inherently greater than the student then we would still be walking on four, wouldn’t we? But what are the mechanisms that make a student grow beyond the teacher? How does the learner surpass the master? In my strides to learn the learner it all funnels down to intellectual curiosity. This innate sparkle that makes us close the gap between what we know and what we want to know. So, I hope I’ll be helpful with these next few tips on how we can ignite this learning tool and keep it burning.
Make content discoverable
A powerful strategy is to “hide” your content in plain sight. Don’t just hand it for free - make the learner earn it. Everyone likes to learn, but not so much to be taught. So make the learner pull the content instead of pushing it onto them. Introduce elements of surprise to intrigue them, lay easter eggs, reward exploration. Play on the need to satisfy our inquisitive nature as humans.
Inject some healthy skepticism
Let your learners explore topics on their own. Don’t lay it all down - give them the nitty-gritty and throw hooks to let them go the extra mile by themselves. Even fake uncertainty - some die to prove you wrong and they’ll dig extra to do it while learning in the process.
Reward them for being curious
The most basic form of reward in learning is the scoring system which almost every training applies. Growing from there, there are countless ways to provide this classic stimulus. Employ digital prizes and collectibles or go for tangible compensations or perks – possibilities are endless. In any case, rewards will yield a great deal of effort and curiosity.
Let them play
Game-based learning and simulations empower the learner to play. A learner at play is a signal that there is a comfortable mind focused on a fully-internalized goal. Play is hypnotic and more efficient than the most well-planned instructional sequence. A learner playing, nearly by definition, is curious about something.
Make content diverse
Try to make each interaction different, each screen - new and fresh. Not an easy task, but struggling with it is a good pointer to your content being at the end of its rope. If you’re running out of ideas, it’s probably time to wrap your course up. Don’t sweat - it’s even better to leave your learner a little hungry and let them explore further, find other sources, ask for different opinions, fill gaps in their own way.
Give them the freedom of choice
Allow the learner to try different paths. Let them make mistakes. Build branching scenarios, so they can actually think and make conscious decisions. This is where great learning can occur. Let them absorb and explore the content at their own pace and manner - don’t enforce sequences. Don’t lock navigation - lock the answers to interesting questions, so the learner would eventually want to go along your path.
Ask a lot of questions
By asking learners questions you help connect them to the content. The more you make them feel personally involved in the content, the more you encourage participation. A dialog although preordained gives your course life and shows the learner that you care.
Unfortunately, curiosity cannot be taught. But it can be cultivated. So let’s start growing! What are your secret ingredients to its soil?