Please Share My Passion For Education!

Monday, June 24, 2013

An Important Message About ComPassion-Based Learning

When the best leader's work is done the people say, 'We did it ourselves.'
                -Lao Tzu 

Passion-Based Learning.  20-Time.  Genius Hour.  Innovation Time.  Fed-Ex days.  In my opinion, this is the most effective way of teaching students if you want them to learn how to learn, become enthusiastic about learning, and remember stuff at a deeper level for a longer time.  This philosophy is gaining in popularity, but I feel it is important to WARN ANYONE WHO IS CONSIDERING TRYING THIS!!!

I have implemented passion-based learning methodology in my classroom for several years and the results are powerful and jaw-dropping.  When you allow students the autonomy to choose topics and methods which they are passionate about, and then find any teachable moment to teach them assist them in their learning, the results are staggering.  Instead of trying to force feed information down their throats, they will be running to you with question after question after question.

I have had the opportunity to speak to many educators about some of the passion-based learning styles and activities that I have been implementing including 20-time, menu units, etc....  Every time that I have ever spoke about this, whether to elementary teachers, middle school teachers, education students in college, there always a high percentage of them that REALLY like it.  I have had many of these teachers try this out and then report back to me.  I would love to say that 100% of them had glowing reviews about what a wonderful experience they had, but this isn't true.  In fact, about 25%+ report just the opposite.  It BOMBED!

I have really been looking hard into why this bombs sometimes.  It isn't for the typical reasons that the "haters" think it is.  It isn't because "it was just an unmotivated class".  After investigating this further and asking questions the answer became quite obvious.  This next paragraph is of utmost importance if you are considering implementing this style of teaching!!!

You are the tour guide on their voyage to learn!  I have been on many tours and seen many tour guides.  Some of them talked monotone and seemed bothered by my questions.  Some seemed passive and sick of working.  Some seemed so freakin' excited that I wanted to take the tour again right after it was done.  Which type of tour guide are you willing to be.  Your class is like a sports team.  You are the coach.  If you are bringing a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the table, you will most likely have a team with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.  If you want students to be passionate and enthusiastic about learning......then you need to tie your shoes, and dive in.  Be enthusiastic.  Show them passion.  Answer every question with a big smile and a follow-up question.  Inspire every student to go a little bit further with their project and with their learning than they normally would have.  Congratulate and complement them often.  Choose one of your passions and investigate it with them.  Tell other teachers, principals, custodians how proud you are of the students and there hard work and tell them to stop in and see it.  Take pictures of them working and tell them you cannot wait to show the other teachers how involved they are.  

In summary:  You are the spark plug.  Passion and Enthusiasm are contagious.  If you walk in and try to sit back and check your email, stand and talk to another teacher, tell kids to be quiet and get to work, threaten taking "points" will FLOP and you will hate it.

Unfortunately, there are many teachers out there looking for the "lesson in a can" that magically works without putting forth any effort.  IT DOESN'T EXIST and you SHOULDN'T BE TEACHING ANY MORE.  Teaching is hard work.  Teaching takes enthusiasm, commitment, the ability to take chances, fail, and get back up swinging for the fences.  If you are looking for a way that you can have the kids "work" so they will not bother you or so you can get something else done......please.....for the students sake.......don't try this.

In the and watch everything you can by Daniel Pink, Angela Maiers, Sir Kenneth Robinson, Michael Michalko, Seth Godin, etc.....  Inspire yourself before you try to inspire others.
If you have any questions, concerns, comments, suggestions, great stories, please comment.

You can reach me at:

Twitter:  @schink10

Check our pilot program out at:

at Oshkosh North High School


  1. Please comment. I would love to hear your feedback! Don't be shy!

  2. What a great post! I couldn't agree with you more - we need to model passion and excitement for learning if we expect our students to be passionate about their own learning! We need to take interest in what they are doing and ask them questions and learn about and from them!

    I wonder, though, are all teachers able to do this? If they are not, does that make them poor teachers?

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Tia. I definitely agree with your take on infusing passion.

      I do think that most teachers can do this. To be able to incorporate this strategy to the level that we were able to, took a lot of administrative backing, which we had. This could be a definite roadblock.

      I do feel, however, that most teachers should be able to do some of the things that you listed, such as; take interest in the students, model passion, ask them questions, learn from them. If there are teachers that cannot do this right now, I believe that anyone can work to get better at this.

      This question got me thinking about "educators" that I have had, and it seems that the ones that had the most difficulty were some of the college professors that I had that were absolute geniuses at their content, but had no passion to teach and no social/people skills.

      I think that books such as Dave Burgess's "Teach Like A Pirate", Angela Maiers "Classroom Habitudes", Dale Carnegies "How to Win Friends and Influence People" are all classic examples of books that can motivate teachers and help them learn social skills for interacting with students.

      With all of this being said, it reminds me of a story that a friend of mine always says. He says that if you colored one room in the school bright green, that all of the students would love that room and be excited to be in it, because it is new and unique. If, however, you painted the whole school (every room) this color, it would all be the same and the students would lose interest. Variety is the spice of life, and I think that it is important to give students multiple perspectives in how they can learn. I do, though, feel that a higher level of relevancy of content, connections to student interests, and altruistic behaviors should be incorporated in every classroom.

  3. I really enjoyed your post. I had a feeling about where it was going. Thank you for saying what everyone else was kinda already thinking, but too polite to say.

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