Just Listen: Put Kids in the Learning Picture

Kids recognize on a gut level what cognitive science has shown: you can’t separate emotion from learning.

Carla knows she’s going to tune out when a teacher “follows all the rules” and “has no emotion.” And when a teacher shows lively interest, she realizes “we’re obviously going to have fun in this class . . . and we’re actually going to learn.”

Fun might seem like the wrong way to measure whether learning is happening. But the science makes clear that (along with other emotions, and not always happy ones) it can actually help material stick in our minds.

We can see Garlyn light up as she talks about learning the craft of beading with a group of her friends. We can hear Thomas’s pride at creating a graphic novel in his English class. It’s pretty clear that these students are excited by the learning process itself—because it’s fun.

At first it seems like Wilson is explaining a routine problem on distance and displacement. But then something changes. He imagines himself into the picture—and we can see his mind catch fire.

What can a teacher do with this, in planning for Tuesday?

Take 10 minutes to watch the full series of nine short clips. Then—especially if you agree with how Arielle sums them up at the end—please pass along what these kids say to others!

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