What are you passionate about?

Parent: “You seem so passionate about your subject. What else are you passionate about?”
Me: “Oh I love reading and gaming and using these ideas in the classroom. I really want students to understand that they have different options with regard to…” 
This is a typical interaction that I’ve had with various parents over the last few years of my teaching. The whole idea of discussing what I’m passionate about scares me at times. It means that I am giving voice to something that I keep hidden and, once it’s out there, it’s real…

When I find myself thinking about this question or being asked it I often pause and quickly deconstruct two things: the person asking and the question itself. Maybe deconstruct is not the right word but it is the right sentiment. What do I mean by this? Well, my answer will differ depending on the person who is asking. Not by much but by tone, gesture or even by exaggeration. I also have to think about what I am truly passionate about. And, does the person asking truly want to know or is it a filler question – the kind of question that, as a teacher, I have fallen back on when trying to get students to focus or when trying to identify the students who may be struggling. Filler is the wrong word, focus is the “F” word that I am looking for.

I need to know about the person asking and what their motivations are in asking such a question. And then I need to decide which of my pre-prepared answers will I spring on them. We all have these answers – I’m passionate about running or I’m passionate about saving the environment. Broad answers that sound correct but may not be entirely accurate because to truly reveal what you’re passionate about to people involves trust and knowledge. You have to trust them with the truth and hope they add to your knowledge rather than leach it away.

One other thing to consider – think about on what you were passionate about ten years ago, five years, one year? My passions have changed. And this reminds me that my students passions will change – subtly or in broad dynamic strokes as they begin to realise who they are as a person.

So, what am I passionate about? Depends on who’s asking but I will give you my filler lists and, maybe someday, I will give you my real list.

Learning. Classic teacher response but I love learning new pieces of information, filling up the filing cabinets in my mind with random knowledge that I can whip out at a whim. I have been toying with the idea of attempting my Masters degree but we’ll see. Sometimes fear gets in the way of the passion. But everyday I like to find out something new. Something interesting that might not mean much to others but means something to me. I’m definitely a magpie or a crow.

Travel. And my students know this since I remind them constantly that one of the best things that they can do is travel – nothing like eating crickets in Cambodia or tasting tea in Vietnam or downing a churro at Disneyland. I have a bucket list in my mind and I will continue to tick things off as I go. There is something about going into a new place and finding myself completely disoriented and then finding food. I quite enjoy food.

Sharing knowledge. Not just the knowledge needed to pass tests but the knowledge that there is more to the world than school or the town they have grown up in. I constantly share knowledge – even if it isn’t wanted. I guess that’s partially why I enjoy teaching because I have a (sometimes) captive audience who challenge me every day to extend them. I want students to share in this love of knowledge and learning.

My challenge to you is to think about what you are truly passionate about. Have you done anything to develop that passion or, like me, have you put your true passions on hold while you try to figure out if they are what you really want?

I also want you to think about your students and what they are truly passionate about and how we, as educators, guide them and also show them that it is okay to be passionate about maybe collecting toy dinosaurs…

Peace and pancakes…

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