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Re-reading much Daniel Pink, Dewey and Sir Ken Robinson leads me to believe that we are not doing enough to help our children (whether they are our own children or our students) find their passion in life. It seems that in schools we seem to steer kids away from that which they are naturally drawn and have a natural aptitude, because it doesn’t fit into our neat little categories of language arts or science or math. Who made these categories the most important anyhow? And why?

Has the goal of primary education become to prepare children and young adults for college? Why is that? Does that lead them to their passion? Possilbly. For some, you could answer that with, “Yes, yes it does!” But what about those individuals whose interests do not fall into the academic categories that have been deemed “acceptable.”

Creativity has been described by Ken Robinson as “applied imagination” with imagination being defined as “the most powerful force that we have as humans.” Creativity is encouraged in the arts. But are the arts encouraged enough? Conversely, are we doing enough to encourage creativity in all areas (including science, math, technology, etc.)?

How can we get out of the way of children in developing their passions; without imposing our own expectations of who we think they can and should be?

We are all naturally drawn to different things. Maybe we should watch children more and put more effort toward reading what they are trying to tell us. Give them the space they need to grow without over-programming them.

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Comment by Diane Schulthes on February 21, 2010 at 4:36pm
See Guiding Independent Study by Del Siegle in my wiki page
Page 3 and 4 include a Primary Interest Inventory. Enjoy!
Comment by Irene Farmer on February 21, 2010 at 4:03pm
Hi Diane,
I love it -- no grade and no points for independent study projects! Your students are so lucky to have you!

I also love the question you posed "If you ran the school, what would you be studying?" I think I'm going to ask my first graders this very question tomorrow! Thanks for your inspiring reply.
Comment by Diane Schulthes on February 21, 2010 at 3:58pm
Hi Irene,
I agree with you entirely! Reading Pink's new book Drive has reaffirmed my belief that we need to provide regular opportunities for students to explore their interests. As educators, one of the most important lessons we can teach students is how to question and how to find answers to their questions. Unfortunately, by the time students get to middle school, they think research is aimless googling, cutting and pasting.

Just ask kids, "If you ran the school, what would you be studying?" I currently have the pleasure of guiding about 20 middle school independent study projects. No grades, no points. Their interest topics range from "The Psychology of Risk" to "The Mozart Effect" to "Comic Books Reflecting Culture".


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