Do it for yourself

What a difference it makes when you choose to learn a subject, rather than being forced to. Even when it is not your choice, take a positive attitude toward learning as much as you can. You never know if a subject will be useful in your future. The thinking you do is always useful, because it sharpens your mind. When you keep an open mind, you may discover you enjoy a class more than you had expected. On the other hand, what do you think will happen if you start out expecting not to like something?

Growing up, I always enjoyed reading a book when I was just doing it for me. Perhaps this was because I chose the book and the pace to read it at and there was no report to make or marks given. Do it for yourself and not for marks and you will be fully engaged. You will not worry about making mistakes, so you give yourself a chance to learn from them.

Last night I did a puzzle with my four-year-old daughter. I was impressed with how long she was willing to work at solving it and how she kept making attempts when she tried a piece that didn’t fit. Maybe this is because she chose to do the puzzle and to her it was a game. To her, she was just playing, when really, she was problem-solving.

Research has shown that when children are given a task, they work much longer at it and use more creativity when there are no rewards. When a reward is involved, they do the minimum, just enough to get the reward, since they are not doing it for themselves. Perhaps when a reward, or marks, are given, we are suggesting the task itself is not fun, but rather just something to get through. So, marks hold students accountable for getting things done, but not to the best of their abilities.

Learning math is just like solving a bunch of puzzles. Thinking of it that way and doing it for fun, rather than results, could make a huge difference for you. Focus always on improving, so that you pick yourself up when you fall. Keep making attempts and never worry for a second about results. Always strive to really understand, rather than just memorize facts, which you quickly forget. Effort, based on really caring about your own learning will always lead to your best possible results. Remember that you control your effort to think and to take action, but not your results.

Have you had experiences where you have learned just for fun? What difference did this make to your enjoyment, and the quality of your learning? How will you still give your best effort when marks are involved? Thanks for reading!

One thought on “Do it for yourself

  1. I agree learning on your own is always more fun. However, sometimes you don’t know *what* is important to learn. That is where a great teacher can guide. Curious about your reference for ‘research’, you might include a footnote or hyperlink to your sources.


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