How Can We Nurture Passion in a School Setting?


Everyone I came across at the ASCD Conference agreed that our education system is broken. Yet, we continue to struggle with solutions. Everyone seemed to agree that schools need a broad and balanced approach to education that includes not only mathematics and literacy but the arts, sciences, humanities and physical education. When Sir Ken Robinson got up for his keynote speech, he stressed that rubrics, practices, assessments and teaching techniques are generated from left-brain cognition. It is all based on logical perspective. Yet, everyone, I have listened to touched on the fact that children need the opportunity to think for themselves... and personally I agree. How do you assess how well a student can think for themselves? How do we give credit to students that are extraordinarily creative but don't engage well with numbers? How do we balance the results instead of giving a low standardized test score based on their difficulty with math? And that test doesn't allow the student to demonstrate their creative or artistic ability, an ability that he or she truly desires to develop. How can we nurture passion in a school setting?

ken-robinson-largeSir Ken Robinson hit the nail on the head when he stated that everyone is inherently creative whether they choose to believe it or not. Regardless of what subject we may prefer in school, deep down, each one of us has the ability to create. But as Robinson stated so eloquently, our environment can stifle our creativity, especially if we continue to believe that only some of us were born with the creative gene.

I was asking myself before the keynote speech, "Why don't teachers feel comfortable with teaching students about themselves? What is so wrong with encouraging students strengths? How come a student doesn't have a class on internal disciplines such as emotional intelligence or creative expression? How come children aren't encouraged more often to brainstorm a subject they have an interest in? Why must we force them to engage in material that is mostly just used to pass the test? Why don’t we allow more room for creative exploration especially for children who are just beginning to find their way in the school system?" I can’t tell you the sense of relief I had once Sir Ken Robinson began answering some of these questions that were fogging my consciousness. He told a story about a few of the members of a little band known as The Beatles. He gave a few examples stating that none of the members of the band were actually really interested in music, let alone good at playing any particular instrument while in school. His point was that we can’t predict where we are going to end up later in life and therefore the key to success is to combine "the things we love to do and the things we are good at".

"Formal education often gets in the way because it is typically focused on a very narrow idea of talent."


We need to transcend old educational concepts and paradigms that no longer work and focus on fostering creative youth development in our classrooms. One of my favorite quotes from the speech was “life is made up of constant improvisations” which in my mind means that we need to prepare students to have the best chances of making smart decisions in those moments where they are required to improvise. Therefore, letting students truly explore who they are will ultimately help them later in life. Children are smarter than you think. When they are empowered they will awe you. Watch this TED Talk - Changing Education From the Ground Up w/ Sir Ken Robinson.  Leonardo da Vinci said, "study without desire will spoil the memory." Therefore, by allowing students to engage in what interests them, we are empowering their ability to retain information.
  • Passion is the love of something for its own sake.
  • Education needs to help people to find their passion (students, teachers, all involved in education)
  • Passion in education is about serving others.
  • How to sustain and maintain it? What causes it to go away?
  • Passion is a two-way street, both teachers and students can spark it.
  • How do pay & conditions, systems, testing etc.. affect passion?
  • PLNs can have a strong positive impact on nurturing and growing passion.
  • Does passion translate into the vision?
  • Passion needs direction and guidance
  • Is passion the difference between great teachers and mediocre ones?
*This list comes from previous edchat
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1 Response

  1. Jane

    I agree that we have lost something in our quest to quantify every aspect of education and learning. I truly believe the purpose of education should be to teach children to love learning and how to be life long learners. High stakes tests and developmentally inappropriate curriculum prevent children, even those children who do well in school, from truly enjoying learning and finding their passions.