Creativity, Innovation

Spark an Idea, Follow an Interest, Cultivate a Passion

There was an article on Fast Co. recently that caught my eye. The title of the article? Do Like Steve Jobs Did: Don’t Follow Your Passion.

The article references Job’s now famous Stanford commencement speech and then goes on to detail how he lived and how his passion was not always technology. There was a lot of commentary following this article, including comments from the author of the book from which this article excerpt was taken, Cal Newport.

Newport puts his own twist on the “Passion Hypothesis” : The key to occupational happiness is to first figure out what you’re passionate about and then find a job that matches this passion. His take on this:

“Don’t follow your passion, let passion follow you in your quest to do something valuable.” -Cal Newport

One reader suggested the catchphrase “following an interest—finding a passion”. Cal suggested a slight semantic change to “following an interest—cultivating a passion”.

Passion is what drives me to teach, to share about what I learn though teaching, to find out more and better ways to do what I love to do. The more I pursue my interest in teaching, learning and education, the more passionate I become. There are things that could make one despondent with regard to education but for me, I am “intoxicated by the possibility” (thanks, Hugh!).


So how to we help our kids “follow an interest, cultivate a passion”?

One way might be to implement “Spark Files”. Coined by author, Stephen Johnson, the Spark File is a process/tool that he uses to collect “half baked ideas” with no regard to organization, hierarchy or taxonomy. For eight years, Johnson has collected ideas, notes, articles, thoughts and documented these in what he calls his “Spark File”.

Once a month, he goes through the file in its entirety. He looks for patterns, connections, revisits old ideas and looks to connect with newer ideas.

As I read this, I thought of my Instapaper account = the quick, simple, “read later” button that I hit on a regular basis whilst rolling through my Twitter feed or perusing the internet. I am always intrigued by what happens when I review this file. This post is a culmination of two “read later” posts. Some things get deleted, some get me thinking of past experiences, some get to feature in blog posts having gotten me thinking.

The same could work for our kids, using free Instapaper accounts or using the web-clipper tool in Evernote. As I look toward the end of the year, where my kids will be undertaking “The Passion Project” as their fifth grade PYP Exhibition unit, this could be another way for them to collect ideas to inspire them.

For more ideas, take a look at this less than five minute animation of Johnson’s TED talk on “Where Good Ideas Come From”

3 thoughts on “Spark an Idea, Follow an Interest, Cultivate a Passion”

  1. Could probably watch that video 3 or 4 more times…so much there to chew-on. I just love the word “hunch”- it seems so old-school. I propose we bring that word back into our regular modern vernacular…:)

  2. Thank you. I am learning so much from these new connection through blogs and twitters. I wil try out the Evernote and pass it on to friends, teachers and students!

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