“What does learning a lot feel like, Dad?”

Driving PJ, my eight-year old, to school this morning, I asked, “Peanut, how’s school?”

“School’s great, Dad. I love school.”

“Are you learning a lot?”

[Long pause]

“What does learning a lot feel like, Dad?”

That question has stuck with me all day! If you feel so inclined, I’d love to read how you might respond to such a question.

Nothing like crowd-sourcing my parenting!

4 thoughts on ““What does learning a lot feel like, Dad?”

  1. Dear PJ,

    Learning feels like falling in love. Maybe you haven’t fallen in love yet with a person (but maybe you have 🙂 ) but I bet you have fallen in love with an activity.

    Maybe you have fallen in love with riding your bike, skiing or maybe swimming. I remember when I was your age I was in love with swimming. I never wanted to get out of the water and when I was in the water nothing else mattered, I felt like time stood still and everything was just as it should be. To me if I was in the water it felt magical and I could do anything. I could be a mermaid, I could do flips, I could hold my breath forever, I never felt like I did anything wrong, everything i did in the water was perfect. It didn’t matter either way for me, because I was in love with swimming. Do you have something that you do that feels like that?

    When I am learning I don’t worry or wonder about anything else. When I am learning whatever I am learning about captures my heart completely. I don’t wonder if I am doing it wrong or doing it right because it is not about how I am doing it, it is just about doing that activity.

    My guess is you already know what learning feels like, you just have not identified it as learning. I bet you have many activities that you are in love with and that you are a great learner.

    Yours in learning,


  2. Ezra and Craig, thanks so much for your comments. It’s interesting to me that Ezra draws immediately from a consumption metaphor, and Craig begins with a production advocacy. Of course, Ezra moves to descriptions that cross a line and use creation as the means to describe the feeling.

    I’m intrigued by Craig’s comment about boys and feeling. While I understand the sentiment and the research to back it, I recounted the story as it really happened – PJ asked me what it feels like to learn a lot. And despite being a boy, I have always thought that I was a strong feeler.

    I responded to the inquiry this way:

    “Peanut, that’s a great question. I think learning a lot feels different to different people. And I think different kinds of learning feels different even to the same person. For me, when I am learning a lot, I tend to be in situations where I had a lot of choice in the matter – when I choose to learn and engage, and when I get to choose what I am learning – I tend to feel the most energized and filled (satisfied) by the learning. But, when I am learning a lot, I also tend to feel challenged and stretched a bit. Like when you reach for something that you can touch with your finger tips, and you can almost grab it, but not quite. Does that make sense?”


    “What do you think it feels like, Peanut?”

    “Right now, Dad, I’d say it feels like fun and play, but with a little struggle. And it can feel like math. And reading a good book.”

  3. It feels like making things. I believe if you are making, creating, building or producing then you will be learning the most. Boys are wired to tell you what they will do or what they did. So asking about feelings is a much greater stretch for boys than girls. Girls’ brains are actually wired so that the emotions are more connected to language. So especially with boys, I would say learning a lot feels like you are making and building and creating a lot. LOVE the question! Craig

    678.733.0339 http://www.pullnotpush.wordpress.com http://www.thelambertschool.com

  4. It’s the difference between eating a great meal and eating a big meal. One fills you up; the other leaves you satisfied.

    It’s the difference between the labor that exhausts your resources and labor that replenishes your resources.

    It’s the difference between being and becoming.

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