Because. Because why?

“I’m sad I can’t go out to the barn today”

“Why?”

“Because my car can’t drive on snow”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t have snow chains”

“Why?”

“Because I can’t afford them”

“Why?”

“Because I’m in grad school”

“Why?”

“Good question”

Leo cries. “PAAAA-WEEEEEEESE tell me. Paweese. PawEEEEESSSSEEE!!!’ His voice now reaches a pitch only dogs can decipher.

I scrap together the best explanation that I can and the “why” game continues. I’m extremely fortunate to babysit the red-headed, truck-loving 3 year old little boy and these “why” games reach stand up comedy quality. I have caught myself singing a lovedĀ Wizard of Oz tune “because of the wonderful things he does!” after simply running out of answers. Aside from the frustration that the constant “why” elicits, I can’t help but be a little jealous of his curiosity. He is so excited to learn, grabbing anything he can and asking questions. Lots and lots of them.

Wednesday’s class got me thinking: how can we spark students’ curiosity like Leo’s? Withholding information from Leo ends in tears. Sometimes he will settle and say “mommy will know”. He doesn’t have access to a smartphone, ipad (only on special occasions) or a laptop. He can’t find answers at the tip of his wee little fingers. He doesn’t know how to do that yet.

Here’s the beautiful thing: undergraduates do. I’m wondering, what would happen if we can spark interest and then leave them with a cliffhanger? Give them enough fodder to keep them wanting more about the topic… and then let them go. What might that look like? I’m not sure this could work for every class.I just can’t see myself hunting on google for something related to lawmaking (YAWN) but I could be easily proven wrong. The word “legislation” is a more effective sleeping aid for me than the biggest melatonin pill anyone has ever seen.

I’m a big believer in the power of intrinsic motivation. It’s absolutely pivotal for change: recovery, life changes, learning, you name it… we have to do it for ourselves. We can’t effectively force people to do anything without leaving a bitter taste in their mouth. The challenge is… how do we do that?