Monday, May 31, 2010

Find your passion

What if schools had only one objective? What if schools had one, and only one, purpose?

What if schools existed only to help people find their passion?

Do schools do this now?

If not, what would have to change?


  1. Absolutely awesome! I am going to see if I can organize a screening at the local independent movie theater. I want everyone in my high school to see this (and my own kids too)

  2. This might not be popular, but I don't really buy into "finding your passion." I don't think there's one thing, or even just a handful of things, that each person can be happy doing. I think it only sometimes seems like that because most people so haphazardly stumble upon passion.

    Take education, for example. I'm passionate about learning and helping others learn (and you probably are too if you read Joe's blog). Some might say I'm lucky because I've "found" this passion and feel fulfilled in my work. But you know what? Put me, or even the most passionate educators, in a system that isolates them, strips them of their autonomy, makes them feel inadequate or undervalued, and let's see if they still come into work every morning feeling passionate and fulfilled.

    The only reason I feel passionate about helping others learn is because I can do it in a way that allows me feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. In other words, I believe in what I'm doing and can do my job the way I think is right; I feel skilled in helping others learn and have opportunities to keep honing this skill; and I work with colleagues and students that I care about and like being around, and whom I feel care about and like being around me.

    Being an educator hasn't always met these conditions for me, and when it didn't, I felt miserable (or in the overdramatic language of deep depression, my soul was being crushed). In those days, I think I would have been happier cleaning the halls and classrooms. You know why? Because then I would have definitely felt I was doing more good than harm. Keeping the school clean is something everyone appreciated and something that made it a lot easier to do our work of learning. I also just really liked the janitorial staff. They were always friendly and warm - and oddly enough, seemed more passionate about learning than many teachers! One custodian even came in with a book he really enjoyed that was related to what we were learning in one of our classes. He even lent it to us.

    Now, is cleaning one of my passions? Not currently, but I could easily see how I could learn to be passionate about cleaning. With the right approach and the right people, I think anyone can find passion in any work that makes life better for others.

    Two comments this young adventurer makes in the video are telling I think:

    "I feel like dead weight a little bit, you know, like I'm not really making a meaningful contribution." It's not surprising that he doesn't feel "passion" for any of this jobs when he doesn't stick with anything long enough to feel skilled and feel like he has something unique to contribute.

    "It's the people that make the experience special." Absolutely, it's more who you're doing it with than exactly what "it" is. Harry Chapin once said that committing yourself wholly to a great cause will help you be happy, because that'll lead you to others who are committed and passionate as well, and those are great people to work with.

  3. I know I shouldn't post again after such a long comment, but what I'd really like to see schools doing is help kids consume positive randomness ( ), every day. Then either help them learn more when they want to delve deeper or get out of the way.

  4. Joe,

    what a great blog! I am a teacher and it is my passion. Life is good. I will use this film on my class blog, thanks for finding it.

  5. great little film and blog

    i know it is possible everyone can systematically connect with and live their passions. If you think of passion as a deep inner drive to reach for what we love or else a unique expression of our human spirit which brings us alive, then everyone has a number of passions - the thing is that people look for it in the wrong place in themselves - they need to connect with their intuition and inner knowing, not what they think they are passionate about. And most of our schools do the exact opposite for both teachers and students- they prioritize intellectual learning over creativity and inner knowing.

  6. I appreciate Chris Fritz's comments. I would generally describe myself as passionate about public education but there are times... there have been years... I don't think we find passion. sometimes we stumble on passion. I like to think these serendipitous passions are ephemeral. Mostly, we build passion through our commitment to something we value. As Chris said, this comes when we become skilled and connected to your purpose.

  7. So while I think this film is novel in its intent, I don't think it's a realistic plan for anyone to try. Who, other than a person making a documentary, can show up at a radio station or fire department and "try" the job out?

    I like the sentiment of telling young people that you have to get out and "DO" but I don't think this is the answer.

  8. Henrietta MillerJune 1, 2010 at 2:03 AM

    What a great idea, thanks for sharing it. Others may complain about the project's authenticity but I think the idea that one should try and pursue a career which is personally meaningful is fabulous. I will show it to my students to try and give them the idea that life is for living and not just for the weekends.


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