June 8, 2022 How does one teach passion?

Lately, the question that has been on my mind is how to sustain a passion for learning? In this case, the main impetus is with my own daughter. I have noticed that even if she starts out strong when things require more effort or become repetitive she loses interest. It doesn’t matter how much she loved it before.

This has happened before, but this time when she wanted to quit guitar I have been more reticent. I’ve asked her why she wanted to quit. Simply, it has become boring. I dug deeper and that’s when things got rocky. She really couldn’t say why. She won’t say it’s because it has become harder. She won’t say it’s because it’s become repetitive, although it is because she hasn’t practiced. She says that it just is. 

While I am concerned for her, and I am hesitant to just drop it and go to the next thing she wants to try, Karate, I couldn’t help but start thinking about my students – making parallels between the two situations. Much of the reason I wanted to become a teacher is because I wanted to share my passion for literature and writing with my students. I wanted to help them grow and learn more about themselves through the characters we discover together and how they interpret the world around them through texts.

Yet, with each progressive year, I find that goal becoming more and more aloof. Instead I find myself staring down a barrel and finding ways to get them above this arbitrary number, 65. Today, I have students who I haven’t seen for months come and see what they needed to do to graduate. They are seniors so the pressure is more than on for me. This isn’t about passion. How can I help them learn and grow when to them it’s just about a number. Even with good students, there is this struggle to keep them engaged when things become difficult.

My daughter and her current struggle with guitar is not so different from students. Thus, it comes back again to the question. Can you extrinsically motivate students to become passionate about something? How do we teach students to not just learn the material we put in front of them, but to want to learn the material? With 19 years of experience under my belt now, I feel I find myself drifting further away from this shore rather than steering myself closer to it.

3 thoughts on “June 8, 2022 How does one teach passion?

  1. You are asking the million dollar question. I like the way you draw parallels in this writing. Golden questions: “Can you extrinsically motivate students to become passionate about something? How do we teach students to not just learn the material we put in front of them, but to want to learn the material?”

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  2. All we can do is create the best possible circumstances for an intrinsic drive to come about. My parents were disappointed for years in my reluctance to find constructive interests. I bloomed late…and none too brightly.

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