Pursuing Passions in School

I ended my last post with a few questions that beg for deeper exploration, “How can teachers feed in to kids’ passions within the confines of the traditional school day and other structures? What would it look like for 25 8 year olds to simultaneously pursue their passions in a classroom? Is this possible? As teachers, how can we at least honor students’ passions and allow them a place in our classrooms?”  This post is intended to explore these questions.

What would “school” look like if it were designed to “feed passions” and not force conformity and boxed-in thinking?  Is it really necessary to have “classes” and “periods”?  Should we align passions to standards or standards to passions or neither to either?  Do kids need any period of “formal” teaching and learning or can they just dive right in to exploring passions at school as they do on their own time?  Should the role of school be to stretch kids’ passion-driven work to provide varied experiences without compromising deep, personal discovery?

One image I have encountered and not been able to shake is the one on this page – http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/index_sub2.html – it shows J.K. Rowling, Richard Feynmann, Lauryn Hill, Julian Schnabel, Mia Hamm, Colin Powell, Deepak Chopra, Jane Goodall, and Gary Larson sitting in desks in a classroom.  The context is an on-line “multiple intelligences” workshop that I used with teachers years ago.  “J.K., stop day dreaming and get to work on your five paragraph essay.”  “Gary, how many times do I have to tell you to stop doodling?”  “Mia, if you bounce that ball one more time I am going to take it away.”  “Jane, no you may not keep the class gerbil at your desk.”  How many phrases do we have on the tips of our tongues that just crush who and what kids come to us as?

Can we become more kid-centric simply by eliminating “killer phrases” from our vocabulary? What if every teacher made a “10 Killer Phrases” list and committed to eliminating those phrases from their vocabulary?  Would school still function?  Would kids be better positioned to explore their passions in schools?

What if every teacher on a faculty shared their list of 10 Killer Phrases and the school staff worked together to eliminate the rules and structures that contributed to them?  Would school still function?  Would kids be better positioned to explore their passions in schools?

What if every school list was sent on to central office and the superintendent worked with staff to eliminate the rules and structures that contributed to them?  Would school still function?  Would kids be better positioned to explore their passions in schools?

What if every superintendent sent their division list to the state Department of Education and they worked to eliminate the rules and structures that contributed to them?  Would school still function?  Would kids be better positioned to explore their passions in schools?

What if every state DOE sent their list to the US Department of Education and they worked to eliminate the rules and structures that contributed to them?  Would school still function?  Would kids be better positioned to explore their passions in schools?  Would we reach the point where no kid is truly left behind?

What would it look like for 25 8 year olds to simultaneously pursue their passions in a classroom?  It would definitely look like a room free of Killer Phrases and full of choices and kid-designed experiences.  Is it possible for 8 year olds to design their own paths to learning?  They already have 8 years of experience doing this on their own time, why do we assume they can’t possibly do this 7:45 – 2:30 180 days a year?

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: