When we talk about education, we often focus on the core subject matter. We wonder about the best ways to teach math, reading, writing, and science. But sometimes, we forget the most important subject of all: the ones the students are truly passionate about.
Passion might not be on the curriculum, but it’s an incredibly important component of a child’s education. Passion is what keeps the drive to learn alive. It’s what keeps students motivated day after day. Without passion, learning can turn into a chore.
The educators at Apple Montessori know the importance of following passions and interests. In this post, we’ll go over some of the things they do to allow each of the children under their care to follow their passions.
The Power of a Passion-Driven Education
Our Passions Make Us Unique
What we’re passionate about often says a lot about who we are. Having strong interests guides us and helps us seek our own path instead of following the crowd.
It’s the same for students. Instead of learning the same thing as all of their peers, students who are allowed to pursue their passions can learn and know more about a particular subject than any of their classmates. By engaging in activities that reflect their particular interests, they can develop their own unique set of strengths.
Our Passions Give Us a Path in Life
Everyone has a story about how they chose their path in life, and it often starts in childhood.
How many veterinarians had a strong interest in animals from a very young age? How many engineers were obsessed with robots when they were younger? How many accountants and financial wizards started off as children who couldn’t get enough of math and numbers?
What students are passionate about gives them direction. It gives them a sense of what kind of career they might want and what kind of work they could do for their family and in their communities. Because of that, they can always feel like they have a goal to work toward and a sense of purpose that animates everything they do.
Our Passions Keep Us Engaged
When you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you often find yourself feeling like you’re “in the zone” and even lose track of time. That’s why some people can spend a whole day in the garage working on cars or tinkering on some project without feeling like they need a break.
That kind of engagement is really powerful when it happens in the classroom.
Allowing students to pursue their passions keeps them engaged, and being engaged makes learning easier. When a student is doing something they find engaging, you can see them concentrate harder and work longer without losing interest in the task. You can see them enjoy the process of learning instead of feeling bored by the work they’re doing.
When a student follows their passions and is engaged in the work they’re doing, they’re intrinsically motivated to do the work. That is, they’re doing the activity or learning about the topic for its own sake.
When we drain passion out of the learning process, it’s harder to keep students engaged. They’ll still do what’s expected of them, but they’ll be pushed to it by extrinsic motivators, such as the desire for praise or a gold star on their assignment. None of those make learning as fun or easy as it is when the work is done for its own sake.
How Apple Montessori Helps Your Child Explore Their Passions
Allowing children to explore their passions helps them stay motivated, gives their life direction, and makes them better learners. Here are some of the ways we facilitate that.
Giving a Well-Rounded Education Through a Child’s Passion
Some people might worry that letting a child follow their passions means they’ll become obsessed with a single subject and won’t master some of the core skills and abilities they need to learn.
A child hooked on math, robotics, and computers, for example, might let their reading comprehension slip. Likewise, a child in love with fairy tales might not want to put in as much time on numbers and arithmetic.
What we do, then, is use each student’s passion to help them be well-rounded. We use what the student is interested in as a theme to help them learn everything they need to know. For example, a child who is really into outer space can read about the planets, learn more about the solar system, and learn simple math by being asked to count or add up stars instead of abstract numbers.
With the right approach, allowing a child to follow their passion will help them get a very well-rounded education.
We Encourage Discovery
Passion can’t be forced – it can only be discovered. And we discover it by dabbling in many different activities and topics until we find the one that sticks.
Instead of presenting our students with a very strict curriculum and rigid learning materials, we give them the room to explore and learn about many different things. In the process, they can discover what really animates them.
If they’re already passionate about something, all the dabbling they’re doing can help them discover another thing they love. Many of us are passionate about multiple things, and combining our passions is often how we come up with our most unique and interesting insights and ideas.
We Give Our Students Room to Play and Explore on Their Own
Our classrooms and our learning materials are designed to help students learn on their own. These materials allow students to work on the tasks they are most interested in and work at a pace that is suited to their abilities (challenging enough that they will learn and grow from it, but not so challenging that they’ll feel confused and frustrated). We refer to this as “structured freedom”— giving our students a greater degree of latitude to learn and grow at their pace, but in a way that is well-thought out and well-planned by our teachers and leaders.
By taking charge of their own learning in this way, students can discover what they’re really good at and explore topics related to their interests.
We Don’t Break Concentration
Students learn the most when they’re absorbed in the activity they’re doing. Because we don’t have a very rigid and pre-set curriculum dictating what students will do throughout the day, we can let students concentrate on the tasks they’re doing without rushing them to the next activity.
When students are passionate about what they’re learning, they’re highly engaged in the activity they’re doing. Breaking their concentration also breaks off that engagement. That’s why we do what we can to encourage concentration and avoid pulling our students away from the activities they’re engrossed in.
Passion Makes a Huge Difference
Passion can make a big difference in learning. Encouraging a child to pursue their passions supports their natural curiosity and sets them up to become life-long learners.
We recognize the importance of passion and give our students the tools they need to pursue theirs. It’s one of the many reasons Apple Montessori students do so well in school and achieve great things once they graduate.