What Are You Passionate About?

September 20, 2009

Results of the High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE) released in 2007 by the Indiana University Center for Evaluation and Education Policy and conducted with 81,000 high school students in twenty-six states revealed that seventy-five percent of them reported being bored in class. You may be one of them. You may have dropped out of school literally, or just figuratively, dragging your body there day after day but never truly bringing your mind to school. You may even be in college and feel this way.

Because of their lack of interest, many students arrive at—and continue in—training schools, colleges, and universities never having learned to interact with learning in meaningful and intentional ways, having given little thought to what does interest them intellectually. Their inability to engage in learning in affects their success and it also affects faculty who may find it difficult to sustain their own enthusiasm when faced with their students’ sometimes active disengagement.

If you don’t know your own passions and preferences, and if you don’t understand the ways in which you learn best, it will be almost impossible for a teacher to help you in meaningful ways. I am often hampered in my ability to advise a student because she or he hasn’t given much thought to what s/he actually likes. This is true of good as well as poor students. Many of the students with whom I work are “A” students who have been very successful at doing what they were told to do and don’t know where to begin when assignments are open-ended, requiring them to set their own direction. Going back to school is the ultimate open-ended assignment. There are multiple choices and only you can decide which one is best for you.

This week’s blogs focus on choice, the first of the six themes of fun in learning. The key words/phrases related to choice from surveys of fun in learning include: many options, freedom, possibility, not just one way, self-expression, creativity, studying things I care about.

So here’s today’s question: What are you passionate about? You don’t need to narrow this down to school-related things like multiplication or adjectives. What do you love? Love to do? Do in your spare time? What has interested you since you were a child? What new interests have you developed? What do you wish you had more time for? Determining what you already love is a first step in finding an educational path you can stick to, whether that passion becomes part of your schooling or simply sustains you through necessary drudgery.

Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities,
because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled,
can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.
• President John F. Kennedy


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