The pain behind the joy

“Joy” and “learning” do not often go together when they are done for an external purpose (extrinsically), like to cover a syllabus or to prepare for exams. Because the boundaries are fixed and there is little room for innovation. But when learning becomes intrinsic, where learning for self-satisfaction is allowed and encouraged, then JOY will take place in the learning process, and the learner will be more likely to endure long hours of practice on the subject that they are learning.

Adopting a growth mindset is the key to success in the area of joyful learning – where the potential for growth is greatly maximised by applying effort and persistent practicing. Those who limit their learning by having a fixed mindset – that learning is limited to one’s “smartness” or “intelligence” or youth, will find themselves unable to grow exponentially as compared to their growing counterpart.

“Children who associate success with hard work tend to have a ‘mastery-oriented response’ to challenging situations, while children who see themselves as just plain ‘smart’ or ‘dumb,’ or ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at something, have a ‘learned helplessness or orientation.” (Dr. Carol Dweck)

Associating effort with success will bring out the best in a student, and rewarding effort rather than results can make a great difference between getting motivated students who learn and manufacturing fixed-mindsets who aren’t motivated.

“The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term process, and not line in the shell of static, safe mediocrity…….successful people shoot for the stars, put their hearts on the line in every battle, and ultimately discover that the lessons learned from the pursuit of excellence mean much more than the immediate trophies and glory.” (Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning).

So, the pursuit of joy actually involves a great deal of pain. It is a myth to think that learning is all fun and joy, although these elements are imbedded in the learning process, waiting to be uncovered by the diligent learner. The next level of learning, after the joy of discovery, is the painful process of mastery. And this can take years of diligent and persistent practice that involve tens of thousands of hours of immersion work.

The saying: “No pain No gain” rings true for learners in all fields, and to shield a child from the pain is to set him or her up for failure and disappointment, and that is a very tragic thing for the child indeed.

The key to grooming motivated students who are willing to practise and perfect their skills in playing an instrument, or pursuing a sport, is to teach them HOW to practise to get the outcomes that they require. Knowing WHAT to achieve and HOW to achieve them, makes the process more DOABLE and the satisfaction of “getting it” is more than enough to make the student want to continually pursue it. This is the key reason why sportspersons train relentlessly in pursuit of excellence and coaches and teachers play a crucial role in shaping champions!

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