Sunday, July 15, 2018

"Find Your Passion" Research #EdChat

A new article has come out and it shared the research done on the idea that people just need to "Find their passion" and how it is terrible advice. In the educational world, the phrase, "find your passion" has been shouted from the rooftops as a way to engage students and teachers in the learning process. Many people have built mini empires on driving this narrative for teachers and students. The phrase can actually be quite complex and do tremendous harm if not unpacked for students and staff, but many people don't want the long and dirty answer regarding the value of passion in schools. "Find your passion" is not about waiting until lightning strikes with that one thing you have just discovered. It doesn't work that way. I never would have grown to love coding, physical computing, and Raspberry Pi if I did not stick with it and let the passion I have for it grow organically. It was a process. The idea that your will just find that one thing right away is mythical. Now, some people pick up a paint brush, solve a math problem, or strum a guitar for the first time and are hooked, but that is not the vast majority of people. As a teacher, I have grown more passionate about the profession over the years because I became dedicated to growing as a learner. I have been an advocate for Makerspaces and Genius Hour/20 Time. I am an advocate for finding things that you are passionate about or might be passionate about and exploring them. Genius Hour/20 Time for my HS students was an opportunity for students to explore areas that interested them. Some of them found out they were very passionate about these projects at the end and others recognized that this area was not something as interesting as they had hoped. You can't even call it a failure because trying something out and realizing it is not for you is just how life works. The problem stems from people showing up on PD day, standing in front of a large group of teachers and just telling them to tell their students to follow their passion and for teachers to follow their passion and walk away with the check in hand. No real strategies on how to do that or what that means in the grand scale of the school or district. Poor administrator support makes it even worse. Teachers are all pumped up, but have no real idea what this means and this can harm students in the long term. Passion needs to have a tempered approach that allows all educators and students the opportunity to try things and see where it takes them. Helping students and teachers develop passions as they explore the world is an amazing thing to do. Makerspaces and libraries are perfectly poised to be a space that supports learners as they explore the world and find what they are passionate about. As long as we all accept that it can change and evolve over time, then I'm all for "Find your passion" being in education. If not, then we have another empty platitude that puts money in the pockets of people and leaves teachers and students in the dust to figure it out on their own.

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