"Passion" is a word that has been over used in the last few years. At some stage (I'm not exactly sure when) the word started to bug me, and eventually it became a pet hate. People would say "I'm really passionate about this..." or "My passion in life is..." and I would roll my eyes and scoff. I don't know when I became cynical about passion, but I did.
I think part of it was that I saw it as a new education 'buzz' word. Something that our leaders wanted us to have and show. People were talking about 'passion' left, right and centre and I felt that it had really lost it's meaning. Lately though, I have found the passion for 'passion' again!
The last two years, have been years of great learning for me as a teacher. I am still fairly new to teaching (in my 4th year), and have found that I now feel "settled" in the job. I have been lucky enough to work with a leadership team that has allowed me to explore my ideas. These ideas have lead to the Boys Education trials that we have been running at our school, and in turn have let me find my 'passion' area in my teaching. Finding this passion has made me a better teacher and a better learner.
Now that the 'buzz' word has changed, people are analysing 'passion' less and instead are starting to feel and find it. I see people at my school using their passion for dance or music or maths (yes these people exist) in their teaching. It is a great thing to see. Since starting to run a class blog with my class I am seeing 'passion' in my new professional contacts from around the world.
Myles Webb talked about his passion in his last 'teacher's desk' blog post. We can all see this passion coming through in his class blog and the support he has given other bloggers (including myself) get started with their online journey. You can see this passion coming through in his students' online learning. Bill Chamberlain and Joe McClung show their passion for teaching in every blog post and speaking with Joe's class last week it is easy to see that they love learning in his class. The passion these teachers show is a wonderful thing to see, and something I feel privileged to be a part of.
If finding my passion has helped me become a better learner, then surely this must be the same for our students. We MUST find ways to let them 'tap in' to their passions and not stifle them. Sir Ken Robinson spoke about this need in his talk at the TED conference (below). If you have not seen this (or even if you have), take the time to watch this fantastic video.
What he has to say is so important. We are heading toward a world where creativity is becoming more and more necessary and desirable for employment. Helping kids to find their passions and then encouraging them to use these in their learning is fantastic. There is no better feeling as a teacher than to see the success and joy that can come with this.
A young man in my class has a real passion for music and his culture. We discussed this and he decided that he would use this for the basis of a project. He spent time at school and at home arranging and recording a song from his culture with brilliant results (press play below).
There was fantastic learning in this. He had to submit a proposal for the project, learn new computer programs, learn the chords for the song, play guitar, sing, write harmonies and share the meaning of his music with others through a presentation (as well as our blog). He then went through a submission process to have his music considered for a music festival. It was amazing for me to see the joy and recognition that he got from this. He now uses his music skills to support his learning across the curriculum.
I realise that we have a crowded curriculum and I am not saying that this is something we need to find extra time for. I am saying that we need to consider our teaching styles and find a way for kids to use their passions wherever they can. It works for us. I believe it will work for them.