Building Longing in Students

By Jared Kirkwood

When my son turned 4 years old, he made a significant step into middle childhood: the exciting world of Lego collections. Pairing that with his new found love for all things superheroes, we bought him some simple Lego vehicles that he could build and play with. But as you know, being 4 does not come with an innate ability to follow directions, put miniature pieces together and produce the desired result. Thankfully I was a Lego-obsessed child and was looking forward to this day from the moment we found out we were pregnant.

The plan was simple: I read the instructions, tell him what to do, and the project would be completed in minutes. Not exactly. He was too excited and couldn’t sit still, Lego pieces flew all over the living room, nothing was getting done. My instinct was to sit him down, gathering the pieces again, and follow the directions to complete the project. But I completely missed the point. Playing for my son didn’t require the task of finishing the build. He was content allowing his imagination to take over and play with whatever was in front of him. It was my task oriented mindset to complete the build first and play second that was hampering his experience.

A French writer named Antione de Saint-Exupery said, "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."

Its easy to get task oriented with the things we want. Especially when we are considering the future of our children. If we want them to be successful in life, they need the right college, which means the right grades and diverse extracurricular activities to build out their application. So we create tasks and assign things for our kids to do. But what’s missing? What are we neglecting to teach our kid in that process?

What if we could instill a longing for the endless pursuit of learning in our students? To look into the vast sea of knowledge, connection, and service to others as the true motivation for their life ahead. What could change in their mindset if this is what they longed for?

We might be surprised how much a student can accomplish if we help them shift their eyes from the immense amount of homework piling up to the endless immensity of potential that comes from the ability to learn. Take the next opportunity you can to lift a student’s eyes up from their tasks to see the vast ocean of possibility right in front of them.

Jared Kirkwood is Chief Talent Officer of The YouSchool. You can follow him @JaredKirkwood

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