Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cultivating The Passion

I once taught a kid that I knew was going to grow up and do great things. From the moment I met him there was just something about him that made him stand out from all the other kids that year. He would never settle for just average. He always had to be the best at everything. Whenever one of his teachers would assign a project he always had to go above and beyond what the other kids did. Whenever he was in PE he would have to score the most baskets or run the furthest the fastest. It never really was a competition with other students. It was more a competition with himself. He wanted to do better than he did the last time. He didn't have many friends but that really didn't bother him. He was much more focused on being better. He had ambition. He had drive. But above all else, he had passion.

This week on #Edchat the topic centered around how do we as educators help students find their passion. There was lots of great discussion and lots of great ideas. Here is just a taste of what was said.
  • Discovering one's passion is provoked by allowing students to make mistakes and find what they like through experimental learning.
  • Educators must take genuine interest in student, & get to know him before being able to encourage toward passions.
  • Don't be afraid to invest a little extra time with them or for them after hours. Sorry, but teaching isn't 9am-5pm!
  • Passion entails risk, so we must create an environment where risk-taking and mistakes are ok.
  • PBL is an avenue we use. Many call it problem/project based learning but it could easily be passion based learning.
  • Sometimes I think we squash passion in the name of "order". Let's not be afraid of "messy" education.
  • Educators must model a passion for personal learning by regular talking about what they themselves are learning!

I encourage you to visit the archive and read through the entire chat. You can do that here.

Here are some of my thoughts...

Is it the job of the educator to find the passion for the student? Absolutely not. Is it also the job of the teacher to crush the passions of our kids. Absolutely not. But yet that happens everyday. So if we can't find the passion for our students, why do some actively kill it for our students everyday.

Alright, so maybe that is a little harsh but we all know there are particular educators who have, at one time or another, stifled a students passion for one thing or another.

The thing with passion is that sometimes kids don't really know what their passion is. That is when it takes an educator with an eye for identifying it. The key is to provide opportunities in the classroom that allow student to explore and expand their understanding.

Rigidity and blandness are instant passion killers. Students who go into classrooms where it is the same thing day after day will have a hard time discovering their passion or cultivating it. Working in the workbook or copying definitions every day drives the passion out. But a classroom that offers varied assignments, use of different types of tools, takes learning around the globe helps the passion.

We, as educators. in order to help students find their passion have to have passion ourselves. We have to have passion for our job and the work we are doing. But above all else we have to have passion for those kids and we have make it know each and every day that we have passion for our teaching and passion for those kids in our rooms.

While we can not give kids passion we can kill it. We have to make sure we create environments that are comfortable for learning new things and safe enough for kids to make mistakes. And maybe then our kids will begin to discover what they really care about.


  1. We may not be able to give kids passion but we can certainly provide an environment that fosters discovery of passions. You are absolutely right, part of helping students discover their passions is expressing our own.

  2. Nowadays I feel many teachers are just burned out.
    If they had passions somewhen it has been disappearing gradually as they don't have the opportunity and time to refresh themselves and their passions.
    Exhausted teachers who struggle for survival are simply not able to help students to discover their passions because they themselves are deprived of their own passions.

  3. I hope your student achieves great things in his life. He has the passion and drive that many of our young students have today because they "bow down" to peer pressure. I wish we could convince our students to ignore peer pressure. It would make life so much simpler! I strive to be a passionate teacher and hope that my students strive daily to be passionate learners. Well, on some days that is wishful thinking, but we have to keep trying.