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Can we be forced to develop interests?

ChristinaWebRecently, Time Magazine posted an article about parents forcing their kids to develop certain interests. According to the article, interest is a psychological state of engagement, experienced in the moment.

It also stated that interest can be a powerful motivator. It is a predisposition to engage repeatedly with particular ideas, events or objects over time. A study showed that students who did not score well on achievement tests, but had interests in reading and mathematics were more likely to engage with the meaning of the passages and math problems than students who scored higher, but did not have the same interests.

However, some educators do believe that it’s possible for students to gain interest if they have a teacher who is able to become involved and teach them in a way that will spark the students’ interest.

“Teachers often think that students either have, or do not have, interest, and might not recognize that they could make a significant contribution to the development of students’ academic interest,” researcher for this experiment Suzanne Hidi explained.

If a parent or teacher can show their passion for what they are teaching the child, then there is a better chance the kid will actually enjoy it, even if they thought they would not.

There was a study done with 257 professional musicians where it was found that the best ability with the teachers was the ability to communicate well by expressing their love and passion for the instrument.

Growing up, my mom had me take piano lessons. I started when I was about five years old. I took lessons with my aunt who just happened to be a piano teacher, so that worked out quite conveniently. I remember, though, my mom would always make me practice for about 20 to 30 minutes a day.

At first I did not have much of an interest in it. I always just thought I was in lessons because that’s what everyone did. But my aunt was so passionate about playing and would make lessons fun, that I truly started to love it.

I did not feel it was a chore to practice, but rather felt it was a way to get my mind off any kind of stress. I would also feel accomplished after practicing and realizing how much better I had become at a piece. It did take time for the interest to grow, but it did happen.

My point is, I feel it is possible for children and even us college students to develop interests and not just have them right from the start. Yes, of course, there are certain things that might just spark our interest even if we have not learned much about it yet. But there is so much more out there that we should try to develop interests in and not limit ourselves.

As college students, we should try to explore what Illinois State has to offer. There are so many extracurricular activities and clubs to join, and we should use that to our advantage.

For example, I was in College Mentors for Kids for almost three years, and I am not an education major. However, I absolutely loved every second of it and did not stop myself from joining even though I thought I may not enjoy it since it has nothing to do with my majors and what I am currently interested in.

So, even though it might be hard for some to push themselves to join a club completely different from most of their interests, it is something we should all go for because it is possible to develop an enjoyment for it. Trying new things is part of being a college student, after all.

Christina Danno is a senior philosophy and  English studies major as well as a copy editor and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding her column can be sent to cmdanno@ilstu.edu.

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