I've been thinking I should change the name of the blog to "emotions and learning." It's ridiculous how ignored it is that emotions are completely intertwined with the learning process. I've read a number of studies (don't ask me to quote them) that explain how memory, retention, understanding and all sorts and types of learning, understanding, and remembering are tied to social relationships with friends or teachers, or tied to motivation. It seems a simple and logical point that children--hey, all people--who want to learn something or feel that it's useful end up learning it more quickly, end up sticking with the process through frustration, and end up remembering it better.
(I conclude from this, btw, not that we should turn somersaults to try to make the learning interesting or "show" them that it's useful; rather, it would be more efficient to allow learning to emerge from the students' interests and as an outgrowth of what they desire to know or do).
It's also important to note that the social process of learning does similar things. I think about learning by myself vs. going to a class or giving a class or sharing ideas with friends. I used to think it was because of ego or the need for social approval, but I'm beginning to think that we are designed to find social learning more enjoyable. Learning shared is learning enjoyed, plus the additional benefits of collaboration, clarification of ideas, and increased accuracy.