William James on INTEREST

From Talks to Teachers, Chapter 10

"The child will always attend more to what a teacher does than to what the same teacher says."

  • " . . . story-telling must constantly come in."

The law of acquired and native interests:
"Any object not interesting in itself may become interesting through becoming associated with an object in which interest already exists. The two associated objects grow, as it were, together; the interesting portion sheds its quality over the whole; and thus things not interesting in their own right borrow an interest which becomes as real and as strong as that of any natively interesting thing (p. 75)."
  • the association of things and ideas with the SELF
    • how do things acquire personal relevance?
  • relating coursework to "personal fortunes"
    • therefore, begin with native interests and connect
  • in such ways do children (individuals) construct MEANING
"The difference between an interesting and a tedious teacher consists in little more than the inventiveness by which the one is able to mediate these associations and connections, and in the dulness in discovering such transitions which the other shows."
  • " . . . anecdotes and reminiscences will abound in her talk."
  • " . . . weaving the new and the old together in a lively and entertaining way."
  • " . . . correlating the new with the old."
    • proximal and distal experience (Elkind)
"When the geography and English and history and arithmetic simultaneously make cross-references to one another, you get an interesting set of processes all along the way."
  • the integrated curriculum
" . . . make certain that [your pupils] have something in their minds to attend with, when you begin to talk."
  • advanced organizers (Ausubel), the spiral curriculum (Bruner)
"Our acquisitions become in a measure portions of our personal self; and little by little . . . habits of familiarity and practice grow . . . "
  • " . . . associated links . . . "
    • schema theory, information processing, connectionism
    " . . . the original source of interest in all [objects of our thinking] is the native interest which the earliest one once possessed."

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