If you've been around young children, you probably know that they indeed desire to learn. Children have a tendency to ask an unbelievable number of questions about a wide range of subjects. They seem to have a “built in” curiosity when it comes to the “what,” “why,” and “how” of things, and it is this curiosity which we refer to as their desire to learn. But why do children have a desire to learn in the first place? Is it because they want to be annoying? Is it because they learn it from adults? Or is such behavior evidence of something natural?
First, do children desire to learn because they want to be annoying? Probably not. However, it's worth mentioning that, in certain circumstances, with certain people, children may very well display a kind of obnoxious curiosity—just to be annoying. For instance, if you happen to be a rather up-tight person, and respond adversely to such pestering, you may very well find yourself inundated with a group of youthful disciples, gathering around, as it were, just to watch your emotional intelligence (or lack thereof) on display. But as humorous as this may be to contemplate, it doesn't really help us answer the main question.
Next, is a child's “desire to learn,” a learned behavior? It doesn't seem like it is. After all, do a majority of adults sit around all day asking each other random questions about random subjects? Do children sit at the dinner table, quietly observing mom and dad discussing why the sky is blue or where babies come from? If anything, it seems like the seemingly “odd” behavior of adults would stimulate a child's desire to learn, rather than teach a child to desire to learn. Moreover, this question seems to contradict itself. If a child does not naturally posses a desire to learn, then how can they learn how to learn? In other words, if a “desire to learn” were imposed on a child from external influences (parental or otherwise), a child would still have to “learn” to “desire to learn.” And if a child must “learn” to “desire-to-learn,” then it seems no child could, in principle, learn anything. In short, learning itself seems to presuppose a desire to learn, and though external influences no doubt affect us, it seems they cannot be wholly responsible for our desire to learn.
This leads us to our final consideration: do children have a natural desire to learn? In other words, is childlike curiosity “built in” to our existence as human beings? It seems that it is. As previously mentioned, if a desire to learn is not "built in" to human existence, it would be unclear how children—or any human—could learn anything to begin with. Yet, human beings, including children, do learn things. In Book I of Metaphysics, Aristotle tells us that “all men by nature desire to know.” The proposition “all men” would seem to include children. And knowledge itself, which is acquired through the human “desire to know,” is attained through a process of learning. Hence, to further justify our conclusion, we can easily reformulate Aristotle's statement as “all children by nature desire to learn.”