Interests spark students’ love of learning

Illustration by Chaeyon Park

Illustration by Chaeyon Park

Cassidy Foronda, co-editor in chief

The only thing louder than my childhood dinners was me at my childhood dinners. Cramped around a too-small dining table, my large family would sit and eat. Conversations splintered off into several smaller ones, leaving the smell of whatever food mingling with the clanking of utensils and voices, melding into white noise.



Without fail, my high-pitched, over-excited, has-no-place-in-a-small-area screech would pierce through the kitchen with whatever fun fact I picked up at preschool that day. I couldn’t keep it in. Everything I learned made me giddy with excitement and eager to graciously bestow this newfound knowledge on my family.

There was so much to know that I didn’t, so much to discover of a world that my chubby five-year-old legs never traversed. So, everyday, I ran into school ready to uncover something new.

It’s easy to forget that feeling.

Now, dictated by test scores and deadlines, college admissions and my GPA, it’s hard to deny that my learning has lost some of its spunk. Somewhere between learning how rain gets made (cool) and the quadratic formula (not so much), I stopped learning for the sake of learning.

That motivation got replaced. Gradually. For stickers on spelling tests; for getting into those advanced classes in high school; for receiving that university’s acceptance.

I stopped running into school. I’ve started dragging my feet.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are classes in school I’ve come to love. The French Revolution enticed me, and The Sound and the Fury enchanted me. I’ve taken classes that pique my interests and challenge my abilities. But still, most of the times I’ve regained pure, five-year-old-like curiosity have been outside the walls of mandatory education.

Following a sophomore year research paper on mass incarceration, I’ve found myself increasingly fascinated with the topic. The documentary 13th jumped ahead of my Netflix queue of otherwise bingeable shows when it released, and The New Jim Crow sits on my bedroom bookshelf for whenever I have a free moment.

Last summer, my excitement for journalism led me to participate in a five-week program attending lectures, interviewing on the street, writing well into the night and reporting on deadline because I wanted to.

Again, it’s not to say that formal education is for naught. My previous experiences rather prove the contrary; I would never have developed the ability to go investigating independent matters if not for the skills and topics introduced to me within academia. As a child it laid the foundation of my curiosity, and now it nurtures the motivation.

It is to say, however, that it’s never a bad idea to sometimes extract yourself from that particular mindframe of gradesgradesgrades. It’s great to meet the learner you are outside of the ivory tower.

Take a step back.

What are you interested in? What gets your heart fluttering and mind racing? What could you talk, read, watch, sing, dance or examine for hours?

Peel yourself back from report cards, from parents nagging, from teachers lecturing, from competition with peers, from that movie you fall asleep to because the room is dark and you went to bed at an ungodly hour and not because it’s boring—I swear.

The wide-eyed, chubby-legged, curious, loud and insatiable five-year-old inside of you will thank you.