Does it sound odd to you when Anthony Seldon says ‘learning should be a delight’?

May 7, 2010 at 5:36 pm Leave a comment

Image from Dr. Anthony Seldon’s Website

by Alec Patton

Dr. Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College and an advocate of radical education reform, has contributed an essay on ‘The Future of Learning’ to The Long View: New Ideas for Progressive Policy, published by Demos just two days ago.

I’m struck by Seldon’s opening sentence:

Education should be a delight to the mind and the spirit.

The phrasing sounds archaic – perhaps intentionally so (ever seen the architecture of Wellington College?) – but if it is archaic, then we’ve lost something important, because learning is a delight – if you don’t find it thrilling to learn, some part of the process isn’t working.For reasons that I don’t really understand (but would love to learn more about), we talk about learning as if it is a hard slog, a character-building struggle rather than a pleasure in itself. But, as Dr. Tom Stafford writes on the School of Everything Blog, taking pleasure in learning is a part of being human:

Learning something new triggers a chemical release of the same kind as cocaine, albeit in a much more subtle manner. As methods of getting your kicks you can perhaps compare it to the difference between walking up a hill yourself or being strapped to a rocket and blasted up — slower, harder work, but a lot more sustainable and you’re in a better state to enjoy the view when you get there!

The reason for this electro-chemical connection between learning and drugs of reward is that our brains have obviously been designed to find learning fun.

Here’s my challenge to you: in the midst of the kerfuffle over who exactly is going to be running the country, and with whom, and for how long, let’s smuggle the notion that ‘Education should be a delight’ into mainstream discourse, so when the smoke clears, it suddenly seems like the good idea it is.

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Entry filed under: Education & Children's Services.

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