The Joy of Self Directed Learning

The Fun of Self Education

Why Self Educate?

Everyone knows that continuing education is an important part of most careers today. However, it is also an important habit for life.  Continuing education does not need to be obligatory courses or seminars, it is simply the practice of lifelong learning.  Teaching children to be self educators is as simple as allowing them the freedom to self direct their study.  This is particularly ideal for homeschooling. It can be the difference between just getting the curriculum finished and falling in love with learning.

 

How Does This Fit into My Homeschool?

Self directed learning is not the same as unschooling, although it can be.  If you speak to any veteran homeschool educator, you will invariably hear that the main goal in homeschooling is to raise children who educate themselves.  While this still requires support and guidance from the parents, it does not entail the parent being in charge of every piece of information learned by the student.

 

This technique not only nurtures continued education but is enjoyable for the student. Do you have a favorite time period of history?  How about an animal that amazes you?  Have you ever wished you could do a particular skill or craft?  All of these and more can be accomplished through self education.  So push away the textbooks, clear some time in the schedule, and let your children explore their learning passions.

 

How Do I Promote Self Directed Learning?

There are many ways this can be accomplished.  The easiest is to schedule time where your children explore their interests in depth.  Doing so can include reading, watching how-to videos, taking field trips, experimenting, doing hands on activities, or listening to podcasts.  This time is an active learning period but is also passive as there are no checklists or assignments required to be completed.  Don’t have time every day? Not a problem.  Find time once a week or even once a month if need be, the down time will refresh their enthusiasm and fuel their imagination.

 

To truly embrace the gift of self directed education, have your child make curriculum decisions with you.  Perhaps allow him to choose his history study.  Together design an elective class. Your child could even choose the theme of her studies for the year.  The possibilities are endless.  One of the great beauties of homeschooling is the flexibility and freedom that comes with this style of education.  No one is bound by a simple course manual, or rigid schedule. Schedules and curriculum plans are important but not the hallmarks of homeschools.

 

If the thought of designing a course is overwhelming or you don’t know where to begin, there are also journals like Thinking Tree books that provide a guided approach to self education. Each journal has a theme and the student follows the guidelines of the journal, choosing his own books to study. These can be used as a supplement or a course in themselves.  There are also several blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to the idea of “Funschooling” which can help you design an entire curriculum around self directed study.

 

What if My Child Doesn’t Have an Interest to Pursue?

So you have provided the time, space, and support for your child to plunge ahead on this self education adventure, but he just doesn’t know what to study.  What to do now?  Is all hope lost? Never! There is always time to learn something new. Here are a few times to encourage your child to want to self educate.

  1. Read a wide array of literature and nonfiction books as read alouds and see which spark an interest.  It may take awhile, but something is bound to peak her curiosity and leave them with questions she wants answered.
  2. Take varied field trips (including virtual ones) to learn more about history, science, and geography. Allow the experience to intrigue your child to learn more.
  3. Have a reading week where you have no lesson plans other than reading as a family and individually.  Do not set any timers or make any required reading lists.  Reading is the first and more important components to self education.
  4. Let your child get bored!  Necessity may be the mother of invention but boredom is the father of ingenuity.  Once true boredom sets in she will need to find a way to counteract it.  This is where interest, ideas, and experimentation take off.

 

What if We Are Not Homeschoolers?

Self directed learning is by far easier in a homeschool but it is not exclusive to the homeschool life. Anyone can and should promote this practice.  Follow the suggestions above and find time, perhaps on a weekend afternoon or over a school break to give your children, and yourself, room to explore and learn. Discovering how to fit such activities into a busy schedule is a skill that will serve everyone well for a lifetime because learning should never end no matter how full our plate becomes.

 

Freedom to dive into a body of knowledge or conquer a manual skill builds self confidence and self reliance. Let your child steer the ship for a little while and see what shores you discover!

 

How do you promote self directed study in your home?

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When does learning begin?

Learning Begins When?

When Does Learning Begin?

When did you learn to read?  How about learning to tell time?  How old were you when you learned your multiplication facts?  We measure learning in stages and many consider learning to begin when formal education does.  In fact, learning begins much sooner.

 

In a recent study, researchers discovered that significant language learning occurs 10 weeks before birth.  We have know for a long time that babies in utero are experiencing all that is around them, however they are also acquiring language skills that will fuel their development after birth.

 

The four arts of language–listening, speaking, reading, writing–are the building blocks of education.  The language arts are what allow us to study all the other disciplines and synthesize what we have learned.  They are also what fuels collaboration and the ability to problem solve.

 

Early learning happens rapidly and without formal instruction.  Children are soaking up all that is around them. Experiences, and the lack there of, greatly shape not only the amount of learning but the potential for learning in the future.  Likewise, we cannot wait for a classroom to educate our children.  Research has shown that the most significant indicator of future learning, is a child’s first five years. This is when the hardware of the brain is built and connects laid.  In addition, the child’s approach to learning and others is solidified.

 

A study by the National Center for Education Statistics showed that the gap in achievement existed from the beginning of kindergarten.

 

“Children’s brains and children’s attitudes are formed in the first five years of life, and children’s opportunity to learn is affected by the homes in which they grow, the communities in which they grow, their respect for learning, their respect for teachers,” says Ravitch. The makings of the achievement gap are already there on the first day of school, and it’s correlated with “different ethnic backgrounds, where poverty and affluence matter a great deal.” (source)

 

The conclusion, learning begins at home and within those first moments of life.  Education is not just a system or a progression through grade levels, it is the development of attitudes, knowledge, and brain connections that lead to a deeper understanding of the world, ability to evaluate data, and the desire to know more.

 

Education for all is not just an economic boon, it is an opportunity for a brighter future for all.  Through an appreciation for lifelong learning and access to educational resources and opportunities, the next generation will have the groundwork laid for their higher achievement.

 

Just as education does not begin in school, it does not end there either. This is why events like Global Learn Day are so vital to the improvement of every citizen of the world.  By lifting one, we lift them all.  We must each choose to never stop learning and pledge to bring the fortuity of educational enrichment to those who still lack this basic need.

 

As One Planet, One People, we have the opportunity and obligation to keep the tide of innovation going but never lose sight of the small steps that have huge impacts.  Exposing babies, still in the womb, to quality language that is free from violence, stress, and excessive volume. By supporting families, we are educating the future.

 

For as Diane Ravich points out, “There is a kind of a wiser understanding of how children grow and develop and learn that recognizes that children’s first educator is their family, and that nurturance really matters.”

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Contribute to our Timeline of Humankind’s Learning

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5 Reasons to Stay Up-to-Date

Why Stay up-to-date?

Staying up to date in this ever changing world can seem overwhelming. Technologies often seem to become obsolete as readily as they are introduced to the market.  However, there are reasons to stay up to date not just in the technology field but in our personal education. Here are five good reasons to keep striving to know more.

 

  • The technological changes are not only something that techies need to be kept informed of. These affect our everyday life and change the face of both education and business.  The advancement in technology is happening at breakneck speed. It may seem impossible to keep abreast of every innovation.  However, general knowledge of the newest mainstream devices and software is beneficial to understand the changing marketplace and make yourself more marketable in your chosen field.

 

Strive to encounter and test out as many new technologies as you can on an ongoing basis.  Even if you do not master them all, you will benefit from the exposure should one of them become commonplace as touch screens and mobile apps have.

 

  • Continuing education helps advance careers and keep individuals highly employable if something should happen with a current employer. Aside from the software that may change your job requirements or how you work; there is always something more to learn to do your job better.  Continuing education enriches your understanding of your field and gives you an advantage in a tough market.  Continuing to grow and learn will not just benefit your resume but your overall achievement in your career.

 

  • Educational practices are ever changing and even those who take a classical approach to education are discovering new benefits and methods to aid all students to learn. Being up to date in the educational field provides new strategies for teaching and deeper understanding of how students learn.  In addition, understanding educational practice and policy allows you to better advocate for the education of the children in your home, state, or country.  It also lends itself to better providing supplements and extracurricular activities to enhance what is being taught and make up for what may be lacking.

 

  • Staying up to date on geo-political news and needs of neighbors near and far is essential to serve the world well. Conquering any crisis requires information. How much harder is it to overcome a problem if you do not even know it exists?  Keep informed of what is going on in the world to the best of your ability.  Use the information you acquire to make judgement calls, protest injustices, and aid worthy causes.  Better informed citizenry leads to more stable nations, accomplished initiatives, and greater aid to those in the most need.

 

  • Being current builds bridges and fuels ingenuity. As the adage goes, “The more you know, the more you grow.” Feeding your brain with the latest studies or newest breakthroughs gives you an advantage to soar higher, more quickly.  Innovative bridges are built in the brain, these in turn become bridges in knowledge, opportunity, and unity.

 

Being in the know not only helps you see how to build a bridge but where it is most needed.  Grow your future, help mankind, and deepen your understanding by continuing to learn and keeping up to date.

 

How do you stay up-to-date?

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Education

Education in the Past

Education is Our History

Education is a part of human history since the very first moment.  It has taken on various forms, however education is what has pushed civilizations forward and changed the course of history.

 

The education of young in the ways of survival was not only a tradition, but a necessity.  Every generation passing their knowledge and skills onto the next to ensure the prosperity and continuation of a tribe or family.

 

About three thousand years ago, the written word was born. Hyroglyphics, Cuniform, Sandskrit were among the first languages used to record ideas and knowledge.  The development of writing and reading created a new class of literate people as well as a new job, the scribe.  Across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, the tide of education was changing thanks to a piece of papyrus and a stylus.

 

As civilization advanced, so did the definition of education, giving way to great thinkers and teachers, such as Socrates.  Socrates is still known as one of the greatest teachers to have ever lived.  Nearly two and a half millennia later, his style of educating is revered and employed by professors.  The dawn of higher education ushered in the value of thought.  No longer was it considered enough to know how to survive, man had learned to thrive.

Formal Education

Over the next thousand years, formal education in schools began to take root as the private study and generational tutelage continued in the home.  In the early middle ages, these cathedral schools led to the development of universities, coming from the Latin for universitas magistrorum et scholarium, a community of teachers and scholars.

 

Thinkers and motivated self-learners, gathered to discuss, ponder, and debate.  Thought and written word collided to birth the greatest learning tool the world has ever known, the book!  While books remained rare for centuries the ability to read became a hallmark of success in elite circles and ruling classes.

 

As the production of books became more readily available, the literacy rates exploded.  Self education came to the masses.  Families read together for entertainment and education.  The art of forming letters in ink was taught by tutors and practiced regularly.  Reading and writing became the building blocks of every education.

 

Literacy rates have continued to climb. “While only 12% of the people in the world could read and write in 1820, today the share has reversed: only 17% of the world population remains illiterate.” (source) The 19th century saw the ability to read become universal in the western world with near 100% literacy rates.

 

The thirst for knowledge and the premium placed on education led to the push for education for all and the advent of public schools.  While the fight for education for all continues, significant progress has been made.  Access to basic school supplies, uniforms, and books being the greatest hurdle for many who desire an education.

The face of education has changed drastically from family lessons of survival to socratic societies, medieval universities, and one room school houses to modern, computerized classrooms. Despite these changes in how we approach teaching, the essence of education is the same.  The goal of every generation must still be passing on vital information, skills, and tools to inspire independent thinking, just as our early ancestors and Socrates did.  Self education, literacy, and the art of writing are just as important now in our digital age as they were in the days of hand copied manuscripts.

 

Educational implements have changed but true and good education never will.  It is the bridge from the past to an ever changing future bolstered by critical thinking, creativity, exploration, depth of knowledge, and quality literature. This is our past, this is our future, and we must never stop until every child has the opportunity to learn and dream.

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It Matters- Education Builds Bridges

Building Bridges

Why it Matters – How GLD Builds a Bridge

Humankind has been building bridges since at least 1600 BC when the Greeks build a bridge over the River Havos (based on the Guinness Book of Records).  It is a part of who we are as a species to overcome challenges, be they natural or man-made. Just as we build a bridge that covers a canyon or spaces over a river, Global Learn Day (GLD) builds a bridge that spaces cultural differences. GLD is a bridge in that people around the globe can use this celebration to reach out to each other. It is Global Learn Day’s purpose to “Celebrate Mankind’s Learning” and in doing that we are able to move a step closer to being “One People, One Planet”.

 

Why does it matter so much? Why is it so important to build a bridge with education? Simply put, because we are a learning people. Since the first tool was made, mankind has been learning, innovating. We seek out knowledge instinctively. If Education is truly its’ own language then Global Learn Day is the bridge that can unite all peoples. It matters because humankind should be seeking out and promoting those things that unite us rather than those that divide us. Global Learn Day is unitive.

How can we unite people across the globe?

Global Learn Day seeks to showcase and promote individuals with innovative ideas and voices in the educational arena without country, region, religion or political differences being factors. We do this because it is through education that we can unite in a shared human experience and promote ideas that will positively affect us on a global scale.

 

Through endeavors like our Timeline of Man’s Learning Project, we are reaching out to all of our voyagers and asking for collaboration so that we can celebrate mankind’s process of learning. Please visit our timeline and leave a comment, adding another marker so that we can as a global community recognize our achievements and plot a course on where to go next. This will then be available to ALL of our voyagers for use in whatever way they see fit to promote education in their communities.

 

We invite each reader to Join the Voyage if he or she has not done so already. Participate! Engage! We look forward to the help of our global community in Building a Bridge to the Future.

 

How do you build bridges? What bridges has education created for you? Where will the next bridge lead you?

 

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Education is Building Bridges

Education and Building Bridges

Building Bridges

Imagine living on a tiny island, just big enough for your home, but too small to land a plane.  What if this island were surrounded by pounding seas and forbidding boulders?  The unnavigable waters would hold you hostage.  You would own your own island but have no access to what you need.  The shore would be in sight, but so very out of reach.  What would you dream of each night?  A bridge!

 

The bridge that connects the most people and solves the greatest hardships is education.  At the principle level, education fundamentally changes our brain.  Our mind is rebuilt and shaped through what we learn.  We become different people, capable of greater feats and more aware of the world beyond us.  This bridge takes us from simple knowledge to the power to use it and create new knowledge and ideas.  With the personal gift of education, we build a bridge from our simple self to our full potential–it is a bridge that never stops growing as long as we keep laying bricks and stringing supports by our studies.

 

As we break free of our ignorance, education bridges the gap to other people.  We gain not only facts by empathy and analytical capability through a solid foundation.  We can compare and contrast our own little world with those far beyond our reach.  Education immerses us in a world that we would never be able to cover by foot, a world that we may never physically experience, but we can grow to understand through our continued quest for deeper understanding.

 

Education builds bridges from the past to the future by rooting us in lessons learned, and inspiring us to innovate in ways never dreamed before.  Our education is the key to an odyssey that reaches to whichever shore where we can strive to land.

 

Beyond the personal gain, and the benefit to the future, education builds a bridge out of poverty.  It lays a path out of despair.  Education provides the superhighway to a better world.

 

As we build our bridges to solve problems, become more employable, and enhance our life experience; we must remember those who are still waiting at the toll bridge, struggling to see past the gate and start building a bridge of their own.

 

When we speak of being One Planet, One People education is the key to our unity.  Through continued study to understand the hardships, obstacles, and geo-political hurdles that our fellow man must face we build a blueprint of what could be. Let us pick up this blue-print and make it reality.

 

By supporting and funding education for those who need it most, we can get every child on the path to a sturdy bridge building career.  Find a way today, to lay the first brick of a bridge for a child in need so that we can all cross the threshold into a safer, healthier, more unified and peaceful tomorrow.

 

How have you helped to build bridges of education? Join us for Global Learn Day 2017 and

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Coding for Math

Technology in Education

Tool or Hindrance?

 

It seems that everywhere I look, I see kids with technology. Like many, I have had mixed feelings about this increased presence in the hands of younger and younger children. I paid for my own cell phone as a teen and young adult, but my child has one as part of her every day tools. Granted, she is an avid reader and I have found that the gas and book money I save by being able to check out books and download them to a cell phone covers the cost of the plan she has. It is still a huge difference from when I was young.

Recently, I watched a video on Facebook that equated technology usage to cocaine for children. That is a jarring comparison, especially coming from the After School Special and DARE generation. It caused me to question if there is a way to find harmony between Technology and my children. Can technology be a helpful tool without the harmful effects?

Math and Programming?

 

In my search, I came across a blog by Jonathan Mugan a researcher and author. You can read it here. In his post, Dr. Mugan walks parents and educators through a “how to” in order to use programming to teach our children Math. It seems like fun to me, and I am not all that interested in programming! Disclaimer: This is probably because I LOVE to learn.

This fantastic blog post walks the educator through using Python and how to effectively teach basic arithmetic on up to PEMDAS and Variables. I can see where this could be useful for many kids! It is also an excellent example of technology being used effectively to teach.

 

Back to my child…

 

We had a rough school year and Math was often a struggle. Do you remember the Summer Slide post? This can also be an effective tool in a parent’s arsenal to combat it! I can’t wait to set this up for my mini me to work through. It will break up the usage of the Kahn Academy, which we are on daily and also will provide a new skill. Who knows, could this spark a “First Moment of Lasting Excitement?” Will a new path to software programmer begin?

 

In reality, anything that I can use as a tool to educate could also be abused and turned into a problem. As Dr. Mugan shows with his blog post, Technology can absolutely help with education. In fact, programming to learn Math is Innovative and could be Transformative for many. This could be a child’s “AHA Moment”.

 

So, go check out the blog post and maybe take some time to learn how to program! Consider joining our voyage if you have not already!

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Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips Part 2 – Making the Learning Stick

Make the Learning Stick

 

On a traditional field trip, teachers or venues often provided scavenger hunts, worksheets, group projects, or memory pages for students to bring home a bit of the experience and solidify what they learned.  Virtual field trips take it a step further by often connecting you to social media groups that extend the experience, games, quizzes, and follow-up projects.

It has never been easier to give your students the world, and have them remember where they went.  When students are engaged, their potential soars.

Be Prepared

While virtual field trips take a lot of the prep work off of the teacher by providing links and apps for further learning, there is still preparations that must be made before embarking on an adventure. One of the chief tenets of teaching, like the Boy Scouts, is “always be prepared.”

  1. Check that all audio-visual equipment and available technology works properly and can sync together to provide a total experience. Flying over the Savanna is amazing but sound would definitely improve the journey.
  2. Click on every link and make sure that it is active and accurate. The Internet is always changing.  The “trip” you want to take may have been created four years ago, which is like ions in the digital world.  It may still be a worthwhile venture, but you want to be aware of what aspects work and what doesn’t.
  3. Make sure all content is appropriate for your study and students. Just as there are always changes, there are pitfalls on the Internet, namely seemingly innocent links that take you to malicious downloads or sites.  Ensure that your trip will be a safe one for your technology and students by previewing all the links and content before introducing them.
  4. Create a list of recommended reading and “surfing” for after the field trip. Make up a follow up activity list with books available from your school or local library, websites with additional information, and/or apps the correlate to the subject matter presented.
  5. Set the stage and the schedule before you depart. Even though there is no physical traveling involved, virtual field trips still need an itinerary and time allotment. Is there a way to clear the whole afternoon for your class?  Do you only have students for 40 minutes? How many class periods will it take to complete the entire field trip and follow up activities?  Are there any supplies, such as colored pencils or astronaut ice cream that would enrich the experience?  Make sure that you treat this trip as you would one that requires permission slips and plan well.

 

Optional Extras

 

If you have the time and resources, there are some fun extras that could really make a virtual field trip come to life.

 

  1. Have a picnic lunch. Ask your class to brown bag it on field trip day and set up a picnic area inside your classroom or on the school grounds.
  2. Add the local flavor and music. Are you going to a foreign land or region of the good old US of A?  Consider having a potluck of local fare.  Hand out recipe options a couple weeks before.  (Please, take into consideration allergies and have all food labelled) While you dine, listen to some regional or cultural music via an mp3 player, computer, or phone.
  3. Set up shop! What is a highlight of every trip?  The gift shop, of course.  Sell pencils and erasers that match the theme of the trip.  Print out bookmarks or activity packets.  Use as a class fundraiser or have students cash in points earned during the regular school year.

 

Can’t Find What You Want? Create Your Own!

 

“Pre-packaged” jaunts are great resources but no one says they are the only way to go.  Create your own tailored to your needs and curriculum. With a little bit of effort and a few clicks of the mouse, you can create memories to last a lifetime.

  1. Consult Pinterest for activities and photos.
  2. Find a relevant video on Please, remember to pre-screen entire video AND the suggestions that pop up at the end. Certain surprises are never welcome.
  3. See if there are any related organizations, tourist bureaus, or foundations with informative sites. These may also be able to provide you with additional literature or free items for your gift shop.

 

Where would you take your students if even the sky weren’t the limit? Have you taken a virtual field trip?  How did it go?

Consider bringing your class or going on our global voyage this October!

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Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips Part 1

Learning by Doing

 

There is a special kind of learning that occurs when children get to experience a topic rather than just study it. Their eyes light up, their minds engage, and their spirits soar. Using multiple senses make lasting impressions and pique curiosity.  If you want to keep learning fresh, you need to change up how it is done from time to time. The age old concept of field trips meets the new virtual world to create a learning platform like never before.

 

The Field Trip that Comes to You

 

Think back to third grade.  Whether it was five years or thirty-five years ago, you probably remember your annual field trip.  It was the pinnacle of excitement for the year.

With rising costs, budget cuts, and greater demands on classroom time, fitting in a field trip has become more difficult over the years. The sheer price of transportation is often more than can be reasonably met by the school and individual students.

What if you are studying the far away lands of Africa or Australia from your Illinois classroom?  Sure it would be great to experience these lands first hand, but what principal is going to approve that trip? Could you even imagine the fundraising it would require? How does that permission slip work?

Virtual field trips open doors to every teacher in every location!  Now, students in Paris can visit the Smithsonian in an afternoon.  A fourth grade class in Massachusetts can sail around the world and still make it to baseball practice and dinner.  The experience comes right to your locations with the touch of a fingertip!

Come back next week as we explain how to conduct a Virtual Field Trip!

 

For your consideration – If you could take a field trip anywhere, where would you go? Why?

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Hovercraft and Education

Hovercraft and Education

I was recently on Twitter and came across videos of science classes that were racing hovercrafts as part of their lessons. It reminded me of my daughter’s third grade class. Students were divided into small groups and taught how to design a robot. They then got to build the robot and the student groups raced them the last week of school. This was genius! Not only did the children learn about robotics but they had to work as a team and build something.

 

After seeing the Twitter post, I went and looked up more information about students building hovercrafts. I came across a short article in Popular Mechanics.  It is great that a well-known magazine would talk about something (like teaching technology students how to build hovercraft) and a few years later schools from all over are replicating it. Sometimes, we learn better by doing.

 

In some parts of world action is still how students learn the majority of their knowledge. In industrial countries that call to action in the classroom is a key to innovation. Rather than learn about coding software through a book or someone yelling to a student, students get on a computer and code. The difference between these two methods is the first is teacher-centered learning and the second is student-centered. This visual by Paul Curtis offers a better explanation.

 

Who knows if by participating in this learning activity, a future designer for Toyota, Ford or Mercedes is created? Who knows if participating in designing or building a hovercraft or robot is going to spark excitement that lasts a student’s lifetime? Who knows if by participating in this learning activity, a future designer for Toyota, Ford or Mercedes? Previous Global Learn Day presenter, Dr. Terrence R. Redding, shared his thoughts about this when talking about “The First Moment of Lasting Excitement”. You can learn more about that here!

 

This is more of what Global Learn Day celebrates! Education opens doors, it excites us and helps us learn who we are and where we belong. Education builds a bridge to a better future. Across the globe, we are a learning people. We share our previous experiences and hopefully, we learn from them. Education, and our thirst for knowledge, is what helps us to unite and become “One People, One Planet”.

What excites you about learning? What incites you to learn more?

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