Learning For The Fun Of It
(We like this idea so much we’re repeating it for all the students who may need a reminder that learning can be fun!)
Though we here at Meemli don’t like to admit it, sometimes, learning can feel like a chore. Being assigned to memorize the Prologue to “The Canterbury Tales” or repeatedly writing the conjugations for irregular AR verbs for Spanish class could feel mind-numbing. To make it worse, most of the time, you’re not learning for the fun of it, you’re doing it because you have to – grades, college admissions and everything else demands it.
Surprisingly, when schoolwork gets to be a drag, more learning might put the zing back in it – as long as you’re learning something just because.
Learn what you choose, how you choose, when you choose.
Choose to Learn
What does that mean? How do you go about doing it?
Pick something just for you.
That means learn something for fun, not because you have to. Pursue something you’ve always found interesting. You can choose to learn to play just one song on the guitar, or learn to be really good at it. Practice 25 common Russian phrases just because your grandfather was born in Russia. Love to cook? Well, you can learn about the science of baking.You can learn anything: a language, a subject you don’t have at school, a sport, music, pottery. Anything at all. Your choice. Choose whatever subject you find fascinating, and dig a little deeper.
Choose how you will learn.
Maybe you want to sign up for a class, or maybe you don’t. There’s a YouTube video for practically every learning need, from quilting to quantum physics! As you probably know, there are tons of ways to learn something new. Read a book, take an online course, talk to other people, or find a mentor. There might be local clubs that you could consider joining if you want to learn with others. Sometimes the best way to learn something is to ask an expert – Grandpa would probably be more than happy to teach you those 25 Russian phrases!
Make up your own schedule/timeline.
Since you’re learning this new subject because you want to, you also get to set the schedule. You could choose to spend one day on this project over a weekend or spring break, or 30 minutes every week for several weeks. You can think short-term, or plan a schedule over the next year or two. It’s your time and your goal, so do whatever works best for you and your schedule. And, since this learning isn’t something you have to do, you never have to feel pressured. Stuff happens and plans change. Extend your timeline whenever you need to, with no qualms.
Still need convincing? Here’s why you should try learning just for the fun of it:
1. Boost your brain.
Learning new things actually changes your brain – in a good way. (Read the science behind learning here.) There’s been a fair amount of research that is finding a link between learning a new skill (even something like quilting) to improved memory. So, stretch your brain to stay sharp, for now and for when you take the inevitable SATs, ACTs, entrance exams and the like. Great minds think – period!
2. Feel good.
Accomplishing a task makes us feel fulfilled, satisfied and self-confident, especially if it’s something you’ve wanted to do for a while. So choose something you enjoy, or something you’ve always wanted to do. You’re a learner, choosing to know and do something that’s of meaning to you. There’s a sense of fulfillment that comes when you immerse yourself in something that interests you. Since you’re in control of your learning and it’s free from external pressures, you can work on learning your new skill without stress, guilt, deadlines or dread (the perception of being in control is another stress-reducer).
4. Impress the grown-ups.
Taking on a new learning goal just because you want to is impressive. It demonstrates motivation, dedication, and initiative — all qualities that adults like to see in teens (and, anyone else for that matter). Not only will you impress the grown-ups around you, this will add a big boost to your resume when applying for colleges and future jobs too.
5. Make yourself more interesting.
Ok, this may not be THE reason to learn, but it certainly gives you a fun conversation starter next time you’re waiting in the lunch line or trying to impress that new boy or girl at your school. You don’t have to limit yourself to classwork, the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance, or the new substitute teacher – you now have something new and different to share. Those 25 Russian phrases you’re working on may come in handy!
It’s easy to see why learning something for the fun of it is a no-lose proposition. We’d love to hear your thoughts. What have you always wanted to learn? Let us know!