1.2 Interests

“So it’s about getting teens… learning through their interest, through whatever they’re personally interested in… Maybe they love music, so you get them learning maybe a new software music editing program because they love music so much and they want to create it. So really taking those detailed individual interests and saying, ‘Oh, you really enjoy that? Well, here’s something that you can use to be able to create and do it on your own.’”

– Reference and Young Adult Librarian at a Suburban Northeast Library

Learning that is driven by teens’ interests will better align with their personal motivations and goals, leading to deeper learning and higher achievement, which can help relatively disadvantaged youth overcome the obstacles and difficulties present in a more traditional educational setting. The teen years are a time for identity formation (learn more in the Youth Development module), and connected learning can help teens discover and explore new interests.

“Teens don’t often know what their passions are. We need to help them explore possibilities for their passions and give them the tools necessary to explore those passions.”

– Youth Services Coordinator at an Urban Midwest Library

What does interest driven learning look like?

  • Library staff get to know teens and what they’re interested in, both their “serious” interests (like filmmaking, creative writing, or a health condition) and their “fun” interests (like specific TV shows or books)
  • Teens can explore and form new interests with “messing around” activities that provide light introductions to topics
  • Teens feel free to “quit” new subjects that they find uninteresting
  • For those who want more than just “messing around,” there are also “geeking out” opportunities
  • “Pathways for mastery” guide teens in developing their interests and recognizing their achievements

“If it smells like school, they're not going to touch it”

7:44

Constance Steinkuehler

Interest-based learning

Think back to a time in your youth when an adult tried to get you to learn something you weren’t interested in. Then think of a time you were very interested in learning about something. How did those experiences differ? Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • How much time did you spend learning about the topics?
  • Do you still remember anything about the topics?
  • How engaged were you with the topics—did you ask questions or do your own research?
  • How did the adult (if any) in the situation interact with you?

Self-Assessment: Interests

How well do your youth services and programs incorporate the principle of interests?

Example Your Rating Points
Library staff get to know teens and what they’re interested in, both their “serious” interests (like filmmaking, creative writing, or a health condition) and their “fun” interests (like specific TV shows or books) 😃 😐 😱
Teens can explore and form new interests with “messing around” activities that provide light introductions to topics 😃 😐 😱
Teens feel free to “quit” new subjects that they find uninteresting 😃 😐 😱
For those who want more than just “messing around,” there are also “geeking out” opportunities 😃 😐 😱
Total