By Kimberly Vincent
We hear a lot about “passion-based” learning, and although in theory it sounds ideal, there are many factors to consider in building an education system around something as intangible as passion. A recent Future of Education talk addressed the topic, with experts in the field weighing in. The group included Angela Maiers, Amy Sandvold, Lisa Nielsen, and George Couros, and the talk was mediated by Steve Hargadon. These are some of the key points that address the issues around passion-based learning that came from the talk, along with some additional thoughts from John Seely Brown, co-author of A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, and educator Jackie Gerstein.
- REACH OUT TO THE DISENFRANCHISED. We say that we want creative, passion-driven students, yet we reward the opposite. Standards-based education stifles engagement and passion in students. While drop-outs are considered to be lazy and unmotivated, many are simply not interested because they don’t understand the relevance of what they’re being taught. We’re rewarding students who are best at obedience, memorization, regurgitation, and compliance. And those who do succeed in school often don’t know what to do when they get out. We need to prepare kids to be successful in the real world, not just while in school.
- SHOW RELEVANCE TO LIFE OUTSIDE SCHOOL. Passion is the narrative of mattering. It’s that simple and that difficult. Everyone has a deep rooted drive to know that they matter to others and that what they’re doing matters. When you’re doing work that matters, with people who matter, you’re willing to suffer and study more. Passion-based learning is not about matching students with topics that interest them, it’s about presenting subjects to students in a way that’s relevant. People gain empowerment when they’re doing work that matters and is respected. Angela Maiers suggests that a class essay rubric may seem irrelevant for some, and that having students surf the web to identify writing standards that are “worthy of the world” may engage them to take ownership of their writing. Continue reading