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Having spent most of my life in educational institutions (either as a student or teacher), it quickly became apparent to me what the key to success is when you’re trying to learn something.

And that key is …

A hunger for knowledge.

Hunger for knowledge is the “secret” that makes learning enjoyable, not just in an educational context, but in life in general.

Those who are thirsty or hungry for knowledge, have an inquisitive nature, and a positive attitude are the ones that make big progress in their lives, as well as the lives of others.

Those who have this hunger have a purpose, a genuine reason and need for learning, and motivation to engage with what they’re learning.

The best students are those that study to learn, instead of studying for grades. They study to improve themselves, to develop, and to be able to help others. A grade is utterly meaningless in this context.

A personal example

As an example, in the last year of my university teaching “career”, I taught some external classes via the web.

One of the students in this class was doing hard-time in a maximum security prison interstate. Not surprisingly, his communication channels were pretty restricted. He couldn’t attend online classes, so instead we delivered hard copy transcripts of my online tutorials to him.

Despite his obvious disadvantage studying in that kind of situation (let alone the mental obstacles arising from being incarcerated in the first place), he was actually the best student I had taught that particular year (and no, he didn’t tell me to say that!).

Why?

Because he clearly saw the value in studying, and made a conscious decision to do so. He realised his purpose to study, and that purpose had nothing to do with grades or just getting that piece of paper at the end of his degree.

He was inquisitive about everything he was reading, and posed some very interesting thoughts and questions. He researched beyond the requirements of the topic, and read as much as he could about the broader area he was learning.

To him, it was about developing his mind, developing his thinking, and finding a new area of interest that would serve him well after his release.

His attitude to learning was actually very inspiring. It was a similar attitude that I noticed in some of the other students I had taught in the past.

The typical scenario

Contrast this to the typical scenario of a student who has essentially been forced, in one way or another, to go to university (either by their family or society’s expectations).

This kind of student has NO genuine purpose to be there. They have no desire, no need – and it often shows.

In that kind of situation, what is the point of attending?

This kind of forced attendance results in the person developing bitterness, cynicism, and a strong dislike for anything called “education”.

Besides, the piece of paper at the end is usually completely worthless.

The only reason you need to study

So the only genuine reason to be studying is because you have a HUNGER to learn. And no one can force you to feel that hunger.

If you can’t feel it at an educational institution, you need to go find it elsewhere in life.