The Power of Passion

If you think you can make a difference – you can.

As adults, is there any doubt that we are more attentive, more purposeful, and more driven when pursing our passions?  Countless industries have made their fortunes on this concept – developing toy’s, tools and services that allow us to pursue our interests with the understanding that passion leads to action.  Is their any reason to imagine that students are any different?  Education is about helping students identify, ignite and develop their passions.  When we can do that on a consistent basis, students will learn…and remember.

Maggie Hos-McGrane wrote an inspiring article on her blog Tech Transformation, entitled Making a Difference.  She discussed the opportunities we have as educators to make a difference–even when our progress is slower than we would like.  Maggie also shared the following inspiring video about the foundations of the Panyee FC soccer club, established on the Thai island village of Koh Panyee.

Wow.  Let’s remember that kids did this–in many ways, like those we teach every day.  Kids who pursued a passion in spite of seemingly insurmountable challenges, and with limited help from adults.   These boys in Thailand worked on the ultimate Problem Based Learning activity.  They had an objective, created a plan, and implemented their plan with a high degree of success.  Isn’t that what school should look like?

When we talk about our role as educational leaders (whether in the office, on-campus, or in the classroom), it is important to remember that sometimes the best way to lead, and teach, is by taking a step back and allowing others to lead the charge by pursuing their interests.  

How is your school helping students identify and ignite their passions?

cc flickr image by: pirate_renee


  1. Lisa Cooley said:

    People I talk to about this kind of learning — parents and school-board members — say it sounds like a great idea in theory, but how does a teacher manage the passions of 21 different kids? Not being an educator myself, I can only answer, “it can be done,” but it’s not enough to quell the skeptics! The idea of a schoolroom full of activity and the teacher among them guiding and coaching just doesn’t scan for lay people raised in the traditional classroom.

    April 3, 2011
    • Jeff said:

      Appreciate the comment Lisa. Too often we think that allowing kids to pursue their interests is somehow equivalent to a “free for all” — I don’t believe it has to be that way. Even within a given concept we need to give our kids more choices and freedom with regard to how they demonstrate mastery. For example, we all might be studying the events that led to World War I, but the way each student demonstrates their understanding could be dramatically different based upon their passions. As you mention, it is very difficult to move away from the traditional paradigms of education…but it can be done. Thanks for reading!

      April 3, 2011
  2. Lisa Cooley said:

    Thanks for responding, Jeff. The more questions I ask, the clearer I can see what changes are needed. We are moving toward a Standards-Based system in the Reinventing Schools Coalition model in my district. I understand how pursuing passions can be incorporated into the standards system better than the traditional model — much better — but here’s my concern. What if the passion of a student is for video games? Or for just having fun, kicking around and socializing? How does a teacher channel what we as adults might call unproductive pursuits into something more “positive” within this new system? What if there isn’t a “standard” for what the kids really love? This is the part of the standards-based system that still worries me, much as my superintendent tries to put my fears to rest!

    April 3, 2011
  3. Hi Jeff,

    This is absolutely fabulous. Are you familiar with Jenifer Fox’s book, “Your Child’s Strengths?” It speaks to focusing on the students’ passions and strengths.

    I absolutely love soccer, and the video was fabulous. I noticed the man who kept telling them it was not possible, was also the one to bring the kids their uniforms. Loved it so much I had to connect to it in my post

    Thanks again for this post and for making a difference.

    Kind regards,
    Tracy Watanabe

    April 27, 2011

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