Want More Pleasure? Study More!

How do you get more pleasure in your life? According to cognitive psychologist Paul Bloom, the answer is to study more (I don’t think even Dan Pink came up with this one as a motivator!).

Is this ‘just’ a fungus?

Seriously, to appreciate and truly derive pleasure from so many things in life, you need to understand them, says Bloom in a recent interview on npr’s TED Radio Hour, a followup to his TED Talk on “What Do We Value Most?“.

I recall my frustration when, while trying hard to align my teaching with student interests, I asked students, “What do you like to do?”.  The responses were all the same.  Not much, hang out with friends, watch TV.  So I rephrased the question to, “What are you interested in?”, and I was even more disappointed with the complete absence of any interests.  How could this be?  I could write a book the size of a small novel just listing my interests.

This was once again the case when I first started teaching grade 10 computer studies and I was introducing students to Netscape (use the link if you are really young and don’t know about Netscape).  I would say, “Look up anything you are interested in.  Just type the word in the search box” (we always used Dogpile).  But that is where the lesson derailed, because they weren’t interested in anything!

This has plagued me for years, because as a person who does not ever have enough time in the day to pursue all my interests, I cannot imagine having none at all.  But is this what I see every day in my school, when day after day students would rather be somewhere else?

I think that we do a really good job as educators to try to engage students, to use differentiated instruction, to give choice, to listen to student voice, and yet we still find so many youth completely disinterested in learning.

I am playing with this issue this morning and I will share some resources that I am using to try to dig deeper and figure out how to address this problem at my school. Please share any thinking you have on this topic.

Handbook of Adolescent Literacy Research – some of the research around how to develop literacy skills in teenagers, including the effects of policy decisions, and the challenges and successes of working with reluctant learners.

Adolescent Literacy Resources – From EduGains

Literacy Key to Keeping Youth out of the Justice System – Reading and writing as a crime prevention strategy.

No bounds in collecting books for NAN youth

Promising Practices in Aboriginal Education – So far I have been disappointed in that I have not found any ‘practices’ that are based in research, but I have hope (they do “promise”) that even the existence of this website is a start in the right direction.

Aboriginal Education: Our Moral Imperative to Teach Our Shared Canadian History – A touching letter that many teachers might enjoy reading to help frame their own thinking about our First Nations students.

Literacy Gains: Metacognition Resources – Lots of resources from Literacy Gains as they make Adolescent Literacy a priority.

Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. Toronto: Ontario Principals’ Council

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. New York: Routledge.

And if you have access to a library (some of these are not available to the public):

Pirbhai-Illich, F. (2010). Aboriginal students engaging and struggling with critical multiliteracies. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy54(4), 257-266. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1598/JAAL.54.4.3/abstract

pdf: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1598/JAAL.54.4.3/asset/JAAL.54.4.3.pdf?v=1&t=h4pkayzf&s=fd407d0fe8c3dfae6ee35e9e974472a78892972b

Report for Indian and Northern Affairs

Raham, H. Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, (2009). Best practices in aboriginal education: A literature review and analysis for policy directions. Retrieved from website: http://www.firstpeoplesgroup.com/mnsiurban/PDF/education/Best_Practices_in_Aboriginal_Education-2009.pdf

Van de Kleut, G. (2009). The whiteness of literacy practice in Ontario. Race Ethnicity in Education14(5), 699-726.

McKeough, A., Bird, S., Tourigny, E., Romaine, A., Graham, S., Ottmann, J., & Jeary, J. (2008). Storytelling as a foundation to literacy development for aboriginal children: Culturally and developmentally appropriate practices. Canadian Psychology40(2), 148-154.

Barnes, R., Josefowitz, N., & Cole, E. (2006). Residential schools impact on aboriginal students’ academic and cognitive development. Canadian Journal of School Psychology21(1/2), 18-32.

Luke, A., & Luke, C. (2001). Adolescence lost/childhood regained: on early intervention and the emergence of the techno-subject. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy1(1), 91-120.

Zeller-Berkman, S. (2012). Adolescent literacy policy.Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy55(8), 748-750. doi: 10.1002/JAAL.00090

4 thoughts on “Want More Pleasure? Study More!

  1. Teachers are sometimes plagued by the need for balance between educator and investigator (and dare I say entertainer?). It’s so frustrating to see our students neglect opportunities that we provide for them. Why wouldn’t they want the best for themselves? What’s holding them back?

    1. Colleen, you would love to hear Paul Bloom’s talk on how having an understanding of something complex increases your pleasure and enjoyment. He advocates learning art history as the vehicle for enjoying art (among other great examples).

  2. I love his use of examples (and, of course, plan to use them in class)!
    Do you think that we can appreciate learning and strive for understanding because of something as simple as our needs, maybe? There are many of our students who are affected by a lifestyle that is so completely opposite to our own, and possibly our enjoyment of learning and striving to understand more is seen as a bit luxurious? I know that we know the difference, but is it possible that it might be seen that way from someone in another situation? It seems like a bit of a catch-22, doesn’t it? We’re trying to give them what we believe will help them better themselves, to strive for new heights, to provide possibilities. But that very thing is seen as a bother or burden to someone who is in the midst of what could be a myriad of problems (hunger, depression, frustration, the belief that no one at the school could understand them and therefore they won’t buy into whatever it is you’re selling).
    So many thoughts.

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