Brain Research, Inquiry, Mindset, Play

Let Them Explore Their Passions!

Passion.  It is one of my favorite topics when it comes to education.  I know that there are people who will say that asking kids about their passion is a fruitless task – they are kids, what do they know about passion?  I tend to move away from those people and ask anyway.  I think kids are DEEPLY passionate about things.  As teachers (and as parents) one of our biggest challenges is to not get in the way and to allow for their passions, their curiosity, their sense of wonder, and their natural inquisitiveness rise to the surface. 

Last year, I worked with a small team at school on exploring the concept of authentic inquiry through Genius Hour.  Ultimately we decided an hour wasn’t enough and as a school, we will be looking into the idea of incorporating Genius Hour into every hour, every unit.  I have no idea how it will work, but I am excited to work with teachers to give it a go and see what we can come up with. 

To that end, I was intrigued when I read an article tonight titled, “Four Skills to Teach Students in the first Five Days of School” via Mind/Shift.  Here is one of the points from the article:

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 21.08.45

 

This is a different take on the idea we grappled with all last year, but I like it.  I think like anything different, it will take some getting used to and some won’t know what to do, where to begin…but they will.  And in doing so, they will learn.  Lots.  About being self motivated, setting their own goals, or even learn how to ask for help when they need it.  

I love structure but I also love the freedom of an idea like this. As I throw around all of my beliefs about the importance of play, of collaborative learning, of cooperative learning, of finding your passion, the more I am becoming convinced that learning comes not as a result of pre-determined criteria and one way of showing what you know via an electronic flip-book or 3D sculpture.  

Learning is messy.  Learning sometimes is when things don’t work.  Learning is hard work. 

Thankfully, we were born to learn. 

Born to Learn

I know some people will argue that putting up posters,  or creating these sorts of posters with kids, or adding self affirming statements to papers or posters, and discussing the idea of a growth mindset with your kids will not do a thing.  Some people will even go so far to say that it feels fake, forced, artificial.  I disagree.  The idea that individuals can shape their destiny and that learning is real work are important things kids need to know to help them through the parts of their passion journey that aren’t so smooth.  

It will be tough.  You may want to quit.  Don’t do that. Today is just the first day….

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2 thoughts on “Let Them Explore Their Passions!”

  1. Heya Sonya,
    You have been blogging prodigiously lately! Good to see… As often happens, a lot of what you’re writing about seems to connect to things I’m rolling around. Zeitgeist! Anyhow, I’m curious to hear the results and reasons behind your team’s inquiry into Genius Hour practices last year. Can you fill me in on this a bit? Would love to hear where it took you.
    Say hi to Simon!
    jzr

    1. Hi Jamie, We ended up concluding that for our school, the best action would be to encourage a greater focus on provocations and getting kids hooked into our inquiries so they had enough to help them go forward with their own inquiries in the vein of Genius Hour (self-directed inquiries). I am still undecided if this is the best course of action. One consideration was a lack of time but I think this is just semantics – we make time for the things that are important, no? I like that we are thinking more about how to open up our inquiries (rather than planning activities) but I still am a fan of the dedicated Genius Hour time.

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