All of us have had things we needed to do that we struggled to get done. Not because they were difficult or that we couldn’t find the time, but because we didn’t have the passion to do them. Passion is the fuel that drives us. If we are passionate about something, excuses seem to magically disappear and we immediately begin finding solutions to getting the project done. When I think about this, I immediately begin trying to find ways in which I can use this knowledge to better support all learners and educators.
Think about the traditional classroom… Each educator has their lectures, assignments, labs, projects, and assessments. We all know that the vast majority of them are not things the learners want to do. What is it that motivates them to get them done? This motivation is different for each learner. For some it is the drive to make their parents happy, others have an internal drive to do well on whatever they work on, and then there are grades, college, future careers, relationships with friends and educators, and many more.
There is one motivation that they all have in common. That is passion. The problem is… We as educators rarely tap into this motivation. I believe one of the main reasons we don’t tap into it is because of a fear of loss of control. In order to truly tap into each learner’s passion we would need to listen to the learners and allow them to have some say into what they are learning about. I know, I know, there is that Common Core thing that we must all follow.
Really take a look at the Social Studies standards and you will see that they are comprised of a lot of skills. These are not countries and time periods. The Language Arts standards are also a list of skills that are needed. Why can’t we use this to our advantage to allow our students to tell us what they are passionate about and let them come up with a project they would like to do? Or, present the students with a project then be open minded enough to listen to the students if they ask to do something similar aligned to what they are passionate about. We can then tell them what they will have to do through this project to meet the standards. Who knows… you might even be able to fit some of the math and science standards into that as well.
So, if passion = fuel I say we start filling our learners up with some highly combustible passion that will take them wherever they choose to go. I can just about guarantee you they will get much further and faster with this than anything else you fill them up with.