The Great and Driving Heart

What do you think of when you hear the word passion?

Love, perhaps. Inspiration. Devotion.

I think of the color red; a heart steadfastly pumping blood; the bright cells of our bodies are in love with oxygen and it is this that keeps us alive.

Can’t spell heart without ART. Photo CC by Justin Klubnik

There are twelve points that I read about Passion Based Learning. Nine come from Tina Barseghian’s “Nine Tenets of Passion-Based Learning” and three come from George Couros’s “3 Questions to Drive Passion Based Learning.”

I wanted to interject that, hey, I’m pretty good at math for an Literature major, but to tell you the truth, dear Reader, the first total I had was eleven. It’s been a long week.

I’m looking outside the classroom in my readings of the material (Baresghian aptly points out that many student who “succeed in school often don’t know what to do when they get out,” and since the clock ticks down to graduation for me – shudder – I think it’s time I start connecting topics to my supposed future field).

As someone who intends to become a public librarian, I was intrigued by the mention of Makerspaces in Couros’s article. He quotes Gary Stager, saying,

… I am concerned that Makerspaces may exacerbate educational iniquity. While there are expensive pieces of hardware that may need to be secured, I want the bulk of making to permeate every corner of a school building and every minute of the school day. Teachers whose Makerspace is in a few cardboard boxes are doing brilliant work. Making across the curriculum means students as novelists, mathematicians, historians, composers, artists, engineers–rather than being the recipient of instruction.

Makerspaces are all the rage right now in libraries (in fact, for the last class of my minor, I chose to do my project on Makerspaces). When I think about Makerspaces, my mind immediately goes to many of the technologies described in Fallow’s article for The Atlantic: 3D Printers, engraving tech, hands-on tools, and software. And these are all fantastic technologies, but I like that Stager points out that Makerspaces don’t have to be these things. Sometimes, depending on budget and staff and community need, they can’t be these things. But humans are notorious for working with what we’ve been given.

I like, then, that Stager also points out the important concept of students as makers — and I’d like to take that another step further (though I think that Stager implies this) to be just as much about perspective as about doing. When learners aren’t actively making something, they’re still makers — just potential makers. Like a ball that, when it’s not moving, possesses the potential to roll.

That said, it’s about not only seeing the potential in people, but also helping them see it, for themselves. We’ve only done half of the work when we view those we are working with — and each other, to be honest — as the creative souls they (we) are.

The other half is helping them see it for themselves, by helping them access all of the tools and resources available to them (the importance of digital literacy, everyone).

Along with perspective towards others comes our own mindsets. We need to be passionate about what we’re doing, and that includes but is not limited to how we educate and assist with the accessing of resources. Otherwise the effectiveness of our work decreases. Like Barseghian says,

Passion is infectious. Being around passionate people is the best way to become passionate.

It’s like a constant loop: we’re passionate, others feed on that passion to fuel their own, and then we in turn feed on their passion to sustain ours. Like some kind of great, motivational ouroboros. We’re social creatures; most of us know how to mirror and model each other from birth. Think about a time you were super passionate about something you were doing, and you rushed in excitement to share it with someone else. But that person responded with apathy, even if they tried to be polite about it.

But now think about the time you were passionate about you work, and you rushed to share it with someone, and they responded with genuine enthusiasm; they became just as energized and excited as you. Polar opposite feelings, right? And it just demonstrates why it’s so important to grow and care for a mindset of passion. It not only benefits others, but it also benefits ourselves.

That’s a mutuality that doesn’t stop at the classroom; passion is a mindset that ought to follow us wherever we go.

Because it makes the world that much brighter.

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