How can you light a fire in a classroom?

How often do we allow students to pursue their passions?  How often do we let students’ curiosity drive their learning?  I know I have often been guilty of deciding what my students study and how they study the topics in our curriculum.

That has started to change after I read Dan Pink’s Drive.

In his book and Ted Talk

Dan Pink argues that in our 21st century, motivation needs to go beyond our industrial paradigm. People are motivated by:

  1. Autonomy: People should be able to choose how they accomplish a goal.
  2. Mastery: People should have the opportunity to improve at something meaningful to them (e.g. practicing an instrument)
  3. Purpose: People should see their work as part of a larger, meaningful goal.
For the past year, my students have been working on something called the “Passion Project.” Students get to choose a topic of their choice as long as it has some connection to Social Studies (and we can connect pretty much anything to social studies). They then create research questions and conduct research using library databases and online sources. They share their findings on a blog and create  a final product.
I believe it has been relatively successful based on student engagement and feedback from prior classes.
Has anyone tried anything similar and have any feedback?
Students what are your thoughts, do you like it, not like it? Anything we can do to make it better?
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One thought on “How can you light a fire in a classroom?

  1. I personally agree with you 100%. I think the Passion Project idea is a really great one. The idea that students can study what actually interests them, something they so rarely get to do, is fantastic. I think it would help the student population enjoy school more than they do if this could happen in every class. Something related to English, something related to science, math, economics, etc. It's easier to remember what you love.
    Letting your students tell you what they want might be a good idea. I'm sure you already try that, but really taking the time to ask them what they enjoy, what they don't. It's an individual thing, but at the same time, there will be some similarities, some majority in what they enjoy.

    Like

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