Friday, April 9, 2010

"There are only two reasons to learn something. Either because you need it or because you love it."

Yesterday @Johnpnz asked me what were my thoughts on this quote

"There are only two reasons to learn something. Either because you need it or because you love it."

He asked me on Twitter but I couldn’t answer in only 140 characters . So here is my answer to him.

I wanted to write something about it for a while anyway but I couldn’t face to put my thoughts on a page as I was still fuming.

I was lucky enough to go to Learning At School Conference in Rotorua last February. Like a lot of teachers, I thought this conference was fantastic, but (there is always a BUT!!) I went to a workshop which made me very angry. I went to see this lady who I had seen before and thought she was amazing. Well since L@S I have changed my mind. This lady said we should be able to see in the future and see what we need to learn. According to her, it is unnecessary to learn French (she actually took this example in her workshop) if we are not going to use French in our professional life later.

As you can imagine as French teacher and as a lover of languages I was bloody pissed off !! She could have taken any other examples and it would have been the same thing as I think you shouldn't learn things just because you will need it.

Here comes my answer to @Johnpnz :

I think of course we need to learn things because we need them. If I were living in a forest I would need to learn how to hunt efficiently- and very quickly- in order to survive, no doubt about it !!

I have learned heaps of things just because I like them. I have learned how to sign (French sign language) just because I like it, I don’t need it, I didn’t want to get a job where it could be necessary, I have learned Latin (although I was very bad at it!!!) just because it is interesting.

So I would say that of course we learn things either because we need or because we love them.

What makes me sad in NZ is the fact that we don’t give the opportunity to students to do something just for the pleasure or just for the pleasure of culture. We ask our year 9s or Year 10s to choose their options according to which job they are thinking doing later ( maybe in 10 years or more). It seems that we consider that knowledge which is not needed is obsolete. Why would you learn French or biology if you are not going to use them later???
I am a learner, and proud of it. You know when we play the game “What would you do if you were winning the Lotto?” , I would answer that I would pay my mortgage and install double glazing of course, but it would also give me the opportunity to learn even more. To be honest, I love my job, I think it is the best job in the whole world, but after teaching, marking, doing duty at lunch time, looking after my baby in the evening, carry on work at night at home etc.. I am very tired and I cannot find the time and the energy to learn what I would love to. I always wanted to learn pottery, Russian, Arabic...not because I need them, but because I would be very happy to go to bed thinking I can create a vase (not only I want to, not by need) and I could have a conversation with people in Egypt and/or in Algeria. Exactly like now when I am happy to go to bed knowing a bit of biology and geology although I don’t need to.

Sometimes it feels like Education is seen by Schools and Governments like a water tap which has been set to only have a few drops of water running. Why can we not open the tap full and let kids learn just for pleasure ???


  1. I agree - learning to love learning for learning's sake is what I'm all about too. Here I am, at 56, over in France to learn to speak better French! The oldest in my class, but so what! I've found that the Europeans are much more into the love of learning, rather than a focus on a career. That lady forgot that to learn another language is far bigger than just the words! It's mind-altering! :)

  2. Bonjour Florence :)

    Je suis tombée par hasard sur ton blog et je dois te fé est vraiment très intéressant à lire !

    Je t'écris en fait pour te poser quelques questions:

    J'ai 21 ans et je vis actuellement à Paris où je passe un master de FLE et où j'effectue un stage dans une école de langue pour chinois.
    Je suis très intéressée par la Nouvelle-Zélande depuis longtemps, c'est pourquoi je suis tombée sur ton blog :), cependant à en croire les différents sites dédiés au monde du FLE (franc parler etc...), le métier de professeur de FLE serait une vraie misère...peux-tu me faire partager ton expérience ? Quelles études as-tu suivies avant d'arriver en NZ? A-t-il été difficile pour toi de trouver du travail en Nouvelle-Zélande ? As-tu déjà travaillé en Alliance française?
    En règle générale, comment trouves-tu la vie en NZ?

    Voilà, ce sont des questions un peu vastes je le sais mais quitte à me faire une idée du monde professionnel du FLE, autant le faire de façon concrète !

    En te remerciant sincèrement de tes réponses et en te souhaitant une bonne fin de week-end (un petit brin de muguet au fait !),

    - Lisa F.

  3. envoie ton email, je te repondrai