Little kids learn on their own for the pure joy of learning.
School children learn because it’s still fun, but it’s also what everyone else around them is doing. (And they don’t want to get in trouble.)
Middle school students learn because they want to be smart.
High school students learn because they want to get into a good college and get a good job.
As students get farther away from being a little kid, they get farther away from the pure joy of learning, thinking, writing, and creating.
The real work of growing up is hanging onto the joy of learning and remembering to learn like a little kid.