Motivation interview with Paul Oh

In CEP 900/930, we were tasked with creating an audio interview that demonstrated motivation in learning.  Here is my interview with Paul Oh, senior program associate with the National Writing Project.

I chose to interview Paul Oh for many reasons.  First and foremost, he is one of the most motivated learners I know.  He is a curious person who is willing to engage in many topics, to see all sides of an issue, and to help others think deeply.  He seems to do this, at least from my vantage point, out of a strong sense of an intrinsic need to know more and do better.  Paul has been using social media to connect with numerous teachers across the nation, and from my interview with him, I learned that Paul cares deeply for his work, just as he deeply values the intellectual engagement of his many activities.  In my final audio below, I note that the most significant aspect of our almost two hour conversation (don’t worry: I agonized to cut it down to two-and-a-half minutes) was how incredibly valuable it is to Paul to have the opportunity to engage in the exchange of ideas in his own way.  This sense of autonomy is fostered by both his work and his use of social media.  I think as teachers, it is easy to forget that our students have their own curiosities and ways of learning, and that by fostering those we can in turn foster a motivation to learn throughout a lifetime.

Motivation interview with Paul Oh

The Language of Learning

A journal entry from Ralph Waldo Emerson, dated November 2, 1833 reads “Nature is a language, and every new fact that we learn is a new word; but rightly seen, taken all together, it is not merely a language, but the language put together into a most significant and universal book. I wish to learn the language, not that I may learn a new set of nouns and verbs, but that I may read the great book which is written in that tongue.”

This quote came to me from Encyclopedia Britannica blog, who featured the artist Wendy Wahl.  In describing why she chose to create art from discarded Encyclopedia Britannicas, she cited the above quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I find Ms. Wahl’s art incredibly moving and inspiring as I, too, push forward into a world that Emerson describes, a world with its own discourses, its own poetry, and its own secret syntax.  I have never felt more as if I am stumbling towards some kind of proficiency than I do now.

What inspires us to learn the language? to seek out new knowledge?  What is it that pushes us to question, to ponder, to tinker? What about you?  What inspires and motivates you?