The Trouble With Passion Based Learning
Tom Barrett

For a variety of reasons, some expressed in this article and some not, I don’t think the passion a teacher has for something has much to do with whether or not a child or teenager develops a passion. The idea that teachers are responsible for instilling passion about learning or helping children pursue it is vaguely ridiculous.

Passions are internal drives that develop for a large number of reasons — they tap into talent, they provide a sense of identity, they promote a sense of belonging to a group one feels compelled to join, they are areas of competence that are rewarding to expand upon—these are too personal for a teacher in a public school setting to do anything with. This is something that is on the parents and the child, not the teacher. Some parents are good at this. Most are not, which is why the burdens of parenting are increasingly off-loaded onto teachers.

Beyond that, the passions of adults tend to actively turn off the passions of children in many cases. It’s not only about not wanting to be like the older generation in some cases, but the competence of an adult at something a child is inexperienced with can dissuade a child from even trying. Even if you guide a child in age-appropriate ways, the fact that you do it more and better can make a child feel he or she will never gain competence as displayed by the teacher.

Kids are actually much better at finding their way than people think. However, in the modern age, the main issue is that kids are too saturated with input to have enough space psychologically to know themselves or find any sort of desire to create output beyond commentary on the media they consume. In this environment, fewer people develop passion for anything at all because they have no sense of an empty space that they could fill or that needs to be filled uniquely by them.

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