Passion, Learning, and School. How Do They All Fit?

Reading George Couros’ blog post “School vs. Learning” really set a clear message: learning is all about your mindset and how you approach it. For up and coming teachers especially, I think it’s important for us to be conscious of how we are viewing learning and how we can help others see it as a fluid and individualized process. I especially loved how he contrasted different attitudes and examples in order to give meaning behind his words. Anyone can say we need more passion in schools, as it’s not a terribly edgy idea, but I really enjoyed his post and how it picked up on specific examples. For instance, his idea that “School is about consuming. Learning is about creating,” really made an impact on me. While there are always exceptions, (which Couros acknowledges), I thought that was a very simple, yet effective example. We can all think of times at school where we felt sort of like machines: in goes the information, out goes the tests, projects, quizzes, etc.

I think having passion for teaching and learning is a great way to combat the battle of School vs. Learning. To me, they don’t have to be antonyms, but should instead work together. Jordan Catapano’s “5 Ways to Share Your Passion for Learning” the main idea is to show the students how much you care. In turn, they will see that being passionate about something is actually a cool thing to do. Catapano writes in particular:

  1. Regularly apply your passion, and tell your students. Be an example. If you were thinking about something, working on a project, or just walking along and found something interest that relates to class, tell you students about the experience. What you and your students talk about doesn’t have to be isolated to your classroom. Let them see how what you’re teaching applies to the world beyond the classroom.

Something so simple like that breaks the “barrier” that a lot of students have between the “classroom world” and the real world. I remember a couple of classes in subjects that didn’t necessarily hold my interest (lookin’ at you, math!) where the teacher was so passionate about their topic, that it seemed to leak out into everything else. That included me as well.

Another useful article I found was “Nine Tenets of Passion-Based Learning” by Tina Barseghian. I really liked this one and found it helpful because it seemed to be down to Earth and a bit more realistic. It’s easy to get caught up in the romantic fantasy of being so enthusiastic and passionate that every student, regardless of every other factor, naturally excels and thrives under your direction. However, when reality inevitably hits, I think articles such as this will definitely come in handy. Of the articles I had read, I chose this one because it was one of the few to address a real issue: how will we be the ideal teacher under less-than-ideal circumstances? How will we spark creativity and passion in a system that is increasingly dependent on test scores? I liked that it had helpful, not subversive, ideas such as getting in touch with students and enriching their education with social media and other digital formats. Sound familiar?

Overall, I thought the TED talk and both articles all seemed to propose great ideas. While school is most certainly not the enemy here, it is important to know that passion is behind everything, and if we want our students to excel, it is up to us to lead as such.


PCC: Tianna Jensen


One thought on “Passion, Learning, and School. How Do They All Fit?

  1. I’m always a fan of the subversive, so I got a chuckle out of your comment about helpful vs. subversive. But I take your point: dismantling the education system is perhaps not the most reasonable place to begin!! Teachers do need practical ideas that work within the structures and systems most of us need to find ways to be successful within.


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