What Does a Love of Learning Look Like?

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My bloggy friend Mrs. C posted a link to a photograph of a girl crying over homework. It's heartwrenching. It's gaining notice. It's tagged #commoncore.

Seeing the picture, one thought slipped in the backdoor of my mind and tapped me on my mental shoulder:

'That's you.'

If I had been a cute little girl who did my work at the kitchen table and my parents were photographers, there were many times that could have been a picture of me. I cried over every high school paper when my dad would point out that I didn't have a thesis and he couldn't follow my line of argument. I broke down in my frustration at not figuring out how to solve a math problem. I completely lost it when this or that knocked me off my plan. This happened in college, in high school, and while I was homeschooled.

I don't cry as much today. Still, my wife could tell you stories. But she wouldn't because she's good to me.


I'm no fan of the Common Core State Standards (more here and here). I have no trouble believing that the latest changes pushed through education by non-educators (or educators with an agenda) are having a negative impact on children. And with so little background to the Facebook post itself, I have nothing to offer on that story.

But seeing the picture reminded me of my story. I love learning. I do. But there were times when I didn't. I'm not alone. Here's just one recent example of an excellent expression of math loathing. Some students respond to negative experiences with creativity. I tend to simply throw myself a tantrumed pity party.

What does it look like, then, to have a love of learning?

  1. Curiosity. Do you thrill at a new discovery? Are you driven to learn more about a topic of interest? Do you welcome a new depth of understanding? Fantastic. The fact that certain tasks and mechanics push you over the edge is something else entirely.
  2. Tenacity. Do you push through the tough moments? Do you pick yourself up after a topic or task knocks you flat? Are you willing to grit your teeth and change tactics if necessary to uncover the key or secret that's eluded you thus far? This doesn't have to be for everything, but it's pretty clear when an idea drives you forward.
  3. Humility. Do you welcome new insights and perspectives? Are you challenged to dig a little deeper than the pat answers? Do you let yourself be wrong? I struggle with this one. But the more I learn, the more excited I am to learn more.

Homeschooling with Sonlight gave me so many opportunities to hone my curiosity, tenacity, and humility. But I wasn't always happy. I don't always enjoy the process. There are days, even now, where I just want to sit at the table and bawl my eyes out. Because life isn't easy.

But a life-long love of learning isn't easy. Few life-long loves are.

Happy Valentines Day!

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

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