Read this essay to learn about Interest and Human Psychology: Definition, Kinds, Growth and Types of Interest!
Etymologically, the word interest in Latin language means ‘it matters’. I am interested in my monthly salary because it matters for me. The pupil is interested in the examination results because he is vitally concerned about it.
I. L. Russel describes interest as organismic conditions which lead to continuing stimulation of concern about particular objects, persons and activities.
Crow and Crow state, “Interest may refer to the motivating force that impels us to attend to a person, a thing, or an activity; or it may be the affective experience that has been stimulated by the activity itself”.
Strong who has devised interest test batteries, says that interest is behaviour organised around activities. Interest is similar to attitude as attitudes are organised around concepts (and not activities).
Sawrey and Telford explain. “Interesting objects and experiences are those which have satisfied or which promise to satisfy motives”. Interest are thus inter-related with incentives and motives or goals.
Drever say, “An interest is a disposition in its dynamic aspect.”
J.S. Ross, “A thing that interests us is just something that concerns us or matters to us.”
When we analyse all the above definitions, we find that the psychological term ‘interest’ is related to a number of facts. Firstly, interest is a mode of experience of the individual. Stout makes it more specific by saying that it is affective-conative aspects of experience.
A person interested in sports, has a particular feeling towards it (affective side) and strives to attend to it (conative side). Secondly, this experience is not a temporary one, lasting only in the presence of the object of interest. It is enduring.
The sportsman is interested in sports, even when he is not in the sport field. There rests an enduring disposition in the mental structure of the individual round about the object of interest. Thirdly, interest is the basis of conative act in the form of attention. We attend to a certain act because we are interested in it. “Interest is latent attention and attention is interest in action.” While interest is the enduring mental disposition, attention is the experience succeeding it.
Kinds of Interest:
Interest are either:
(i) Natural or
(i) Intrinsic, or
Natural interests are interests arising from natural tendencies like instincts and emotions. A child is interested in play, constructing objects, destroying objects etc., with the goal of fulfilling natural instinctive urges. An adolescent naturally develops in the opposite sex.
Acquired interests are due to acquired dispositions like sentiments, habits, character, ideals and tastes. A musician is interested in music, a sportsman in sports, a businessman in the sale of his goods, etc. Intrinsic interest is the deep-rooted interest. Extrinsic interest is motivated by some temporary external force. A mother has intrinsic interest in her son. A pupil has extrinsic interest in the examination.
Interest and Effort:
Some tasks need greater effort to the part of the pupils. The more difficult task, the more energy is needed. So complete mastery of task needs greater effort and that cannot be secured without attention and interest.
Drudgery aspect of school can be removed if interest is introduced in the activity. An awakened interest will keep the pupil absorbed in the task until he masters it. Successful achievement will, in turn, increase interest and the cycle will go on.
Interest and Fatigue:
Fatigue is generally explained as the result of prolonged physical or mental work in the form of poisons or toxins accumulated in the body. But beside this, fatigue is sometimes mere boredom- a mental phenomenon, which has now physical basis.
Interest is intimately connected with fatigue. A tired person needs relaxation and rest, and may not feel interested in the task. This is also necessary, in order to maintain physical and mental health. But the exceptional situations are no less in number when child remains still absorbed in his work, even though he is tired.
Interest brings additional enthusiasm in the child when he prepares for the annual examination and burns mid-night oil, without thinking how much fatigued he is.
Besides, these cases when the pupil is not interested in the task and he feels fatigued. The apparent fatigue is no more than boredom due to lack of interest.
Duration of Interest:
It varies with age. For a young child, the willingness work for some time is there, but the duration of the interest is very short. He changes his interest from task to task, object to object. The duration increases with age, until maturity is attained. This is the reason why the periods in the time-table of primary school are shorter than those of a secondary school.
Interests at a particular time vary. There are immediate interests and permanent interests. There are socially accepted interests and tabooed interests. There are sometimes interests of opposite nature that conflict with each other. Even the young pupils may face dilemma of conflicting interests when he is interested in completing his home-task, and is also invited by his playmates to play.
A child may have some selected interests, but some children have a number of varied interests. What is needed here, is maintaining a proper balance of interests. Immediate interest may be followed but not to the detriment of permanent interests.
The socially unaccepted interest (say smoking drinking) should be avoided. The teacher should introduce a wide variety of hobbies and activities so that every child finds an activities of his interest. Nor should the pupil be allowed to absorb in one interest alone as to neglect other important interests.
Growth and Development of Interests:
The problem next arises: how to develop interest in children. Psychologists have studied the development of interest among children.
(i) During infancy, there are no marked interests, except attraction by colours sounds and moving objects. With the maturing of sense-apparatus, greater attention is paid to these.
(ii) Upto the age of three, some likes and dislikes are developed. The child takes pleasure in sheer activity and dislikes any obstruction to his interested activity.
(iii) From three to five, children are interested in toys of various kinds, especially those that represents moving objects (like train, aeroplane).
(iv) From five to ten, the interest of boys and girls separate. Girls are interested in dolls, sewing, embroidery, drawing and decorating. Boys are interested in outdoor games of various kinds, collection of the stamps etc.
(v) During pre-adolescence, boys like muscular roles and girls like feminine roles. Boys prefer mathematics and science and girls prefer languages, social studies, fine arts, music and home craft.
(vi) During adolescence, the interest of boys and girls are clearly marked out.
Major Types of Interests:
1. Play Interest:
These are present at all stages of childhood, and are diversified with age.
Talking is most common interest of children. This helps them in satisfying their curiosity (when they ask questions), expressing their thoughts and feelings, and gaining social connections.
Without opportunity to talk, the child suppresses his emotions and becomes a neurotic. Conversion helps emotional release. This interest must therefore be encouraged. Parents make a blunder, when they, under the pretex of being tired, avoid replying inquisitive questions of children.
This is one of the major interests of children who have acquired the skill of reading. They love to read stories, fairy tales, travels accounts, adventures, animal fables and even ghost stories. The standard of the material should increase with the increase in age. Adolescent should be given tales of adventure, biographies and scientific discoveries.
4. Vocational Interests:
These develop or should develop at the adolescent stage. Vocational interests cannot be distinct during the pre- adolescent stage. But parents sometimes thrust their aspirations upon children. There is need for systematic educational and vocational interests of Children and stimulating them to have such interests if they have none.
5. Other Interests:
Interest in movies has gained tremendous strength during the recent years amongst the youngsters. This has mostly a baneful effect upon the adolescent boys and girls, who get opportunity and stimulation to imitate vulgar fashions, vulgar manners and unsocial activities displayed by the movie-stars.
What is needed is starting of children’s films on a large scale, which could have educational value for children, satisfying at the same time their urge for entertainment and relaxation. Ratio is another interest, but due to poverty of the masses, a very small proportion of children attend to school- broadcasts and children’s programme.
In a study made by Sinha and Niwas on the interests of 120 boys and girls of college stage, it was found that 66% of them were interested in cinema. Photography, stamp-collecting and outdoor games were other minor interests of boys, 33% girls were interested of in music and art.
Factors in the Development of Interest:
Sex differences account for the pattern of preferred hobbies and leisure time activities. Some interests like conversation, radio, reading and cinema may be common to both boys and girls. But even therein there are differences in the subject-matter to be read or conversed or listened to. Boys and girls have different reading interests.
2. Physical development:
Interests are connected with (i) health, (ii) physical maturity and (iii) fatigue. A young healthy energetic boy will play sports all day. Another, physical wreck will prefer sedentary activities.
Children of higher intelligence develop interests of higher and complex types. Gifted children are interested in abstract thinking.
There are differences in interests of urban and rural children. Economic status of a family encourages interests in higher types of games and activities. The conventions in the society and the environment around determine the types of games and leisure time hobbies. The culture of a community gives approval or disapproval to some specific interests. Petting and twist-dancing is not an approved interest in India, while it is common for adolescents in America.
While helping the growth and development of interests in the pupils, it is the function of the teacher to pay due consideration to the above factors.
Educational Implications of Interest:
1. Interest as the basis of Attention:
The pupils do not attend to a lesson unless they are attracted towards or feel interested in it. If the lesson is not interesting, attention suffers, and the pupils remain restless. In the absence of attention, the lesson fails. “Within limits, at least it is better to teach by a faulty method with the pupils attending than to offer a model of clearness and lucidity when their thoughts are elsewhere.” Thus the whole fabric of classroom instruction revoles round one important principle i.e., motivation or interest.
2. Need for knowledge of Interests of Pupils:
The teacher should have a clear understanding of the growth and development of interests of children at successive stages of their mental development, the variety of interests, sex- difference in interests and the effect of various socio-economic factors upon the interests of the children. The teacher should know that exact need of the child, his specific interest so that he provides opportunities in the school programme for the fulfillment of the same.
3. Need for Motivation for Instruction:
It is clear from the principles explained above that the teacher should not begin any new lesson unless and until he creates sufficient motivation and interest among the pupils, so as to catch their attention. This he may do through exploratory questions, showing an audio-visual aid or presenting a problem.
A lesson thrust without preparing the psychological ground in the form of interest is a failure. Well begun is half done. So the teacher should begin judiciously, create a suitable atmosphere, arouse curiosity and then announce the aim. Thought-provoking questions should be asked from time to time.
4. Justification for Audio-visual Aids:
The doctrine of interest duly justifies the use of audio-visual aids and presenting of concrete experiences. The lesson should be made as concrete and lively as possible in order to invoke full interest and attention of the pupils.
5. Methods of making lessons interesting:
The teacher should arouse interest not through artificial stimuli but through intrinsic motives engendered in the minds of the pupils. He should exploit the instincts and arouse natural interests. Even at the secondary stage the instinct of curiosity can be sufficiently aroused so as to make the child interested in scientific laws taught in physics, chemistry or biology.
The teacher can arouse sentiments, especially the self- regarding sentiment, for directing the pupil’s interests towards fruitful tasks. The inculcation of higher values of life, ideals and ethical principles will help awakening altruistic interests.
In the day-today instructional programme, the teacher can create interest by bringing some sort of novelty in the lesson, by the use of audio-visual aids, by thoughtful questioning, through activities and projects, through actual experimentation in the workshop or laboratory, and above all through his own dynamic personality.
6. How to avoid dullness:
Much of the school-programme today is dull and boring to the child. Some pupils go to the school under compulsion of the parents, and do the home-work for fear of punishment by the teachers. Their interest in the school-work is not intrinsic.
The basic factor of dullness are:
(i) Stress on theoretical knowledge,
(ii) Lack of activity,
(iii) Lack of novelty,
(iv) Lack of variety of co-curricular activities,
(vi) Unhealthy surroundings,
(vii) Lack of guidance on the part of the teacher, and
(viii) Lack of individual attention.
Improvement in the above situations can help in avoiding dullness and boredom. It is the total organisation of the school that can create intrinsic interest among the pupils towards the instructional work.