Thursday, April 1, 2010

Enduring Passion...

On Tuesday of this week a little bit of passion in education died with the passing of Jaime Escalante. While the name might be meaningless to you, his story is one I bet you might know. You see Jaime taught math in one of the poorest and toughest schools in Los Angeles. As the subject of the 1988 film "Stand and Deliver" we discovered what we always thought. Inner-City kids, no matter their background or their situation can achieve great things. In the movie we see 14 students who had been cast aside as failures. Jaime takes these kids and beyond all odds helps them pass the Advanced Placement Calculus exam, only later to be accused of cheating. Really the only thing we can accuse Jaime of is having passion. He loved his job, cared for his kids and would stop at nothing to help them succeed. He also helped his kids realize their potential and helped them understand that they meant something to world and they were somebody. 

What Jaime had was passion...

This week for #edchat the format was a little different. Steve Hargadon and Classroom 2.0 sponsored a webinar with Sir Ken Robinson. The world acclaimed education author joined over 500 educators in Elluminate for a disscusion of his latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. For #edchat it was suggested we do a "warm-up" question, discussion passion in education and how could passion initiate change in education. Once again the discussion was fast but engaging. Here is a taste of what was said.

  • Does passion = good teaching? Can you be a "good teacher" without it?
  • Passion isn't something that is created but rather the results of the conditions under which learning is allowed to occur.
  • To awaken "passion," we must broaden our focus to incorporate time to play, tinker, experiment, EXPLORE.
  • Sometimes I think that my passion for what I do is what makes my job HARDER! 
  • It takes one that is passionate about learning in order to be passionate about teaching.
  • Burnout is possible for passionate teachers - especially if they feel unappreciate often - luckily, recharging can happen.

As always there is an archive of the entire discussion and I encourage you to read it. Also you can catch the archive of the Sir Ken Robinson webinar. Worth the hour to watch. 

Here are some of my thoughts...

I wrote about passion not to long ago. In that post I talked about educators who stifle passion in their students. And I can not emphisize that we have to avoid this. Seems like a no-brainer but seriously, whether they know it or not, there are educators out there who are killing the passion for learning in our kids. 

Tonight at dinner I had the honor of sitting with @johnccarver, the Superintendent of the Van Meter school district in Iowa. They are doing great things with their 1:1 program and if you are not following him on Twitter you are missing out. 

But I digress....

During dinner he told me of another district in Iowa that has incoming high school freshman write business plans or career skill papers. As part of the process the students can ask for a $2000 loan to carry out their plan. The district has store front space that the students can use to market and sell their wares. The students learn valuable skills and they just might make some money. John told me about several students who's ideas were being picked up by big business or bought out because they are so good. (There is so much more to this story. Once I can get John to give me more I will pass it along.)

The point of all this is that this district is fostering passion in kids. This district is allowing students to create and find out what they care about and are supporting them every step of the way. Why are there not more schools and districts out there like this!?! 

Instead we have too many schools that invite kids in only to spit them out like factory cogs all the long killing any ideas of independence of learning or passion they might have. And on top of that we have educators who are pleased to follow right along. 

What we need are teachers who care about kids. What we need are educators who have passion for learning themselves and want to foster that love in their students. What we need is teachers who have a fire in their belly for teaching, for discovery and teachers who want their kids to to experience the same. 

I will admit. There are days when I was teaching I didn't have the passion to do it. There was even a time that I thought about leaving the classroom and education altogether. But when I laid in bed at night thinking about my future I knew what I was doing was the right thing. I cared too much and had too much passion to leave. 

So do you have passion? When you go into your classroom or your school or your district do your colleagues know you have passion? More importantly,  do your students know it?


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