A well-meaning friend once lent me a book and said, “You should read this. You’ll learn how to become very rich.” He also told me that the secret clue to becoming wealthy was found on almost every page, and that it also occurred several times on the first page.
I read the book. It is well written – a study of human nature – an interesting compendium of anecdotes and tips, directed mainly at sales-people, but not exclusively. I found the clue to becoming wealthy several times before I’d even finished reading page one.
But it didn’t help me become wealthy.
The book was Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. The clue centred on the word ‘desire’. To become rich, first you must have the desire to do so.
Of course, the main reason I could not use the book for its intended purpose was that I had no burning desire to become wealthy. I’d like to be, but the necessary burning desire isn’t there.
The book did make me rich, however, but not in a financial way. It made me think about how some people can be so engaged in learning, they suck up skills and knowledge as if they were vacuum cleaners. It gave me clues as to how some people seem to learn, almost as if by instinct, and never stop learning.
Teaching and learning
When I taught Mathematics at Rongotai College, Wellington, I always asked for an Upper Fifth Mathematics class when classes were allocated to teachers at the beginning of the year. These classes were of students who had failed to qualify in Mathematics the year before.
Every year, I had a lot of fun with the learners in the Upper Fifth. I really enjoyed teaching them. I used to hold classes after school for those learners who felt they needed some extra help and tuition. It was rewarding. The after-school class was always full, though not all who attended were from my own Mathematics class.
There was one attribute common to all who attended.
Hooks for learning
Teachers speak of engagement, and practice strategies to improve student engagement in learning. Some put a lot of effort into stimulating interest in their learners and this is admirable. They look for and find the hooks that catch some learners and get them engaged.
Learning, and achieving through learning, is a bit like growing wealthy. There are many contributing factors, not all of which are related necessarily to innate ability. The learner who has a burning desire to learn will learn, despite apparent handicaps, whether it is learning to become a musician, learning to play chess or learning to read.
But to do this, they must also be able to think to apply their desires effectively. It is in teaching learners how to think that permits those who have the desire to learn to reach their goal. It ignites the fire of learning within them.
- Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week. – George Bernard Shaw