What we learn gets reflected in what we do. How we apply our knowledge depends on how much thought we give to it. If we were to express ourselves there will be a certain amount of focus on one theme with or without our knowledge. This is because we give more attention to certain themes than others. The reason could be preoccupation with that subject or acquired depth in that area over a long period of time. If you talk more about butterflies, colours or plants frequently it may be that you have more knowledge in those subjects and also that you are drawn to them. In a class students respond with examples to what is being taught. These examples on many occasions are themes of interest to them. They could be characters or sports or science fiction. In this way they get drawn to what is being taught in class.
Selective learning is a bit different from preoccupation with a theme in that it is a choice both at the conscious level and at the unconscious level. Preoccupation with a theme does not mean that learning does not happen in other subjects. In selective learning this is more often the case. But regardless of the nature of individual interest our approach to problem solving is influenced by self-expression one way or the other. If you ask a child to draw and if he/she draws a kite more often it is a form of visual attachment. If a child draws an image that does not represent any object in the real world it is an archetype of his/her imagination. Both are forms of self-expressions. In Schools self-expression is a powerful activity by which teachers can win the trust of students.

One often makes a mistake with regard to self-expression and that is one thinks it has little to do with subjects like Mathematics. A research done in the distant past indicates that creative mathematicians take to Maths through the mode of self-expression in a not so obvious manner. Self-expression brings different perspectives to problem-solving.

This is also one of the reasons why there may be different solutions to a given problem. The reason why teachers restrict students to particular paths to solutions is that they would like to know if children have understood the concepts taught. But this can be used to the advantage of both the teacher and student. By welcoming different paths to a common solution you generate a deep felt interest in the subject in your students. The tutor or teacher needs to keep an open mind as he/she needs the students to do the same.

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