Where Dan Pink, Ken Robinson and Austin Kleon Intersect, True Learning Happens

Passion is Genius

There is an educational concept that I’ve been working with for the past couple years, and it has included several conversations with a creative friend, Adam Wayne. It lies at the intersection of Sir Ken Robinson, Daniel Pink, Austin Kleon, and technology. I’m doing my best to create a classroom structure that supports internal motivation, passion, deep skill acquisition and rigor…all in an effort to teach curriculum. If I have learned nothing else in my years teaching, it’s that an engaged student internalizes, applies meaning, and invests in outcomes. If people are really engaged, they read for meaning, they write to be understood, they organize material in constructive ways, and they present to convey. All of the things that are frequently taught in isolation can be internalized in an engaged classroom as by-products of natural passion/engagement.

Creating engaging units is relatively easy, but to try to incorporate the power of passion driven study…that isn’t as simple. One of the problems is that kids don’t usually know what they are passionate about. Heck, most adults don’t know what they’re passionate about! Why? Because our schools and our lives are not usually set up to support finding passion. We over-schedule in school and at home. We cram in as many things as we can…we check off skills taught and tasks accomplished on a never-ending list….all the while being graded and then critiquing and judging ourselves and our surroundings.

Developing passion and interest doesn’t happen like that. That comes from safe open space…in the mind and in time. It requires free-floating ideas and connections and emotion. One thought leads to the next…one question leads to the next…one quest leads to the next…in a loose and free-floating way. Passions are often only seen in reverse. You can look back once they are there and see the meandering path that led to them, but that path can not be predetermined, scheduled, or etched…it has to be loosely felt and allowed time to develop. When a real interest or passion arises, the time and repetition needed to practice it to become skilled often comes naturally. Pink, Robinson and Kleon are right… it is like turning our whole system upside down.

This interest has turned into my own passion. It has led me to Project-based Learning, total subject integration, a loose student-driven schedule, a deep ongoing dive into technology…and I continue to meander. Now I am going to try my own form of Genius Hour to incorporate truly self-chosen topics. Learning how to allow this to play out in my classroom is mirrored in my very own quest, and I know one thing for sure…the learning has been lonely but unparalleled in its power.

5 responses to “Where Dan Pink, Ken Robinson and Austin Kleon Intersect, True Learning Happens

  1. Excellent article..thanks so much fo sharing- I am a 21st century education messiah and this article is so much in alignment with my thoughts.Great work !

  2. Donna,
    I, too, have been influenced by Daniel Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, and also Angela Maiers and Ewan McIntosh. I read this post, and thought, yes, yes, YES! I need to tell my students what you said about them not knowing their passions and why. Maybe then they’ll try to step out of that familiar box and into unknown territory with me.
    I’m going to add this post to the WHY section of the Geniuis Hour LiveBinder, because it really gets to the heart of WHY we need to have SOME time during the day when students can pursue what’s important to THEM, and not to us, or their parents. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Pingback: Where Dan Pink, Ken Robinson and Austin Kleon Intersect, True Learning Happens | Skolutveckling och entreprenöriellt lärande | Scoop.it

  4. Pingback: Coffee and Conversation: Value and Passion | shanjeniah

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