Transcendent Powers of the Soul: Interest and Desire
According to Jewish teaching, within the finite conscious part of our soul the deepest powers we possess are tainug (pleasure) and ratzon (will). Will is the active expression of pleasure: we want what we like. Pleasure and will are transcendent soul powers since they are expressed in all parts of the body.
In educational terms, pleasure is the deep interest a student takes in learning and will is a student’s desire to actively pursue an interest. In short, interest generates a desire to learn. There is a well-known Jewish teaching that “a person should always study in a place that his heart desires”, for learning ultimately stems from interest and motivation.
Just as children are born with natural curiosity and pleasure in learning, so too are all students naturally self-motivated learners. Yet as we grow older we may lose touch with that core. Our responsibility as educators, therefore, is not so much to create interest and motivation but rather to nurture our students’ innate curiosity about themselves and the world around them.