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How important a role do you believe Passion plays as an educator?

As a teacher/educator I am often confronted by up and coming University students who are completing their Education degrees and are working to becoming teachers. But when asked a seemingly simple question of "why", they are left stumped.
How big a role do you believe passion plays when training, and first starting out, and then of course in sustaining Education as your life long career?

  • Mar 14 2012: All great people, great achievers we have on earth have one thing in common - passion, irrespective of their area of interest. A passion for your interest is all that takes you to be the best. Maybe not the best to the world, but the best in terms of your own standards, if you evaluate honestly and be true to your self.
    According to me, educators can be said to be passionate if they remember two things and practically apply them-
    Their job is to pass all their knowledge to their students in whatever manner they can.
    They must remember before writing the word "Fail" on their student's report card - it is not the student who has failed. It is they who have failed in their job.
    Next time they would do everything to prevent that failure.
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      Mar 14 2012: WOW Samridhi!!!!
      You caused a light bulb going off in my head! I truly believe that we are all like mirrors reflecting information back and forth to each other. It never occured to me that a teacher writing "Fail" on a students paper, is actually reflecting his/her own "failure" to convey the information in a way the student might understand!!!

      You say..."Their job is to pass all their knowledge to their students in whatever manner they can".
      If an adult educator is not creative enough to convey information to his/her student, it is not the student who has failed, so the educator may be writing that word for him/herself. If the educator wants to write the word "Fail" on a students work, it is an opportunity to evaluate how they may prevent a "failure" in the future.

      If the educator is really passionately concerned about teaching/learning, s/he will explore the situation in him/herself.
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      Mar 14 2012: Sorry Samridhi I disagree. But understand I am talking older students. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink.

      I have told students that I prepare a banquet. I present content in several different ways to address several different learning styles but I cannot make them eat. That is their responsibility. Either they do it or they do not.

      It is not my failure if they do not learn. My role is to clarify and amplify but its like throwing wet toilet paper to the ceiling. Sometimes it sticks and sometimes you have to throw the toilet paper several times.

      I work very very hard with teachers who internalize student failures. I work against this attitude daily. I know it is wrong.

      This is the one major attitude behind grade inflation. We are graduating students who do not achieve outcomes because teachers and administrators think student failure is the teachers fault. It has to stop. If students do not achieve the outcomes they need to repeat until they do. And we need to stick to appropriate assessments that demonstrate achievement of outcomes (Note I did not say test).

      The current attitude in our government is very scary. It will make this worse. Teachers may loose their jobs if students do not learn and it is so much more complex than the teacher.

      That whole pass all their knowledge is a load of baloney too. That is simply not possible and can cause undo stress on educators. Teachers need to make it possible for students to learn. They are experts in the content and know how to best present it so students can learn. They are not some type of computer that can download information. It does not work that way.
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        Mar 14 2012: Hi Linda,
        There doesn't have to be anyone at "fault", but rather an opportunity? I agree..."you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make them drink". However, if there is something the horse is afraid of, or balking at, on one side of the pond, maybe we can take them to the other side? Sounds like you do that by presenting content in several different ways to address several different learning styles, which can be very helpful to a lot of students. I'm not sure how many teachers do that...it certainly didn't happen in my experience! I agree with you that teaching/learning can be very complex.
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          Mar 14 2012: Nope. Sometimes the horse has to figure it out. It's called critical thinking and I will not take that opportunity away from my students by leading them by the nose.

          However I have been known to stand behind them while they find their way shovel in hand.

          (Also edited out the fault to coincide with the 'failure' in the original post.)

          I present content online as well as f2f. I utilize concept mapping for relationships and global learners. I use illustrations for complex systems. I leverage outside experts as well as onsite application experiences for kinestheic learners. I encourage concept application with case studies and scenarios. I facilitate linear learners by compare and contrast exercises. etc etc. Been doing this a while....
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    Mar 14 2012: Sara,
    I believe passion is enjoyable in any life adventure when incorporated into the moment, so I would not ever deny myself that opportunity by not recognizing it:>) So many people on this thread have offered some WONDERFUL insight!!!

    It's infectious, exciting, an opportunity to teach and learn because we are all students and teachers in this earth school.
    Facilitating/managing the classroom experience, exploration of ourselves and the world around us, creative experience, awareness, relevant, meaningful, authentic, making the subject come alive and causing the student to awaken, modeling core values, contagious, inspirational, moved/changed.......OH MY.....I get excited just thinking about what our world might be like if all these qualities were wrapped into each and every teaching/learning scenario!!!
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    Mar 14 2012: The best teachers I had were absolutely passionate about the subject matter - no matter how mundane. Imagine making a 12 year old FASCINATED with fractions! Or a weary employee actually eager to go to a 4 hour class after working 9 hours. The educator's passion becomes infectious - the students get excited about the subject matter.

    I've started doing some training for my company. I have to remember to be passionate about the subject matter so I don't put my students to sleep! (Four hours on Word can be a bit boring - even for me!)
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    Mar 12 2012: If a teacher has no feeling for the subject being taught, then he has nothing to pass on to students except indigestible dry facts, and that's a barrier to student learning. It's the teacher's interest which makes a subject come alive and makes a student come awake. To an extent, interest can be as effective as passion, or even more effective, since passion can blind a teacher to adverse student reaction.
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    Mar 12 2012: I just watched Larry Smith's talk on why we fail and he talks about passion in place of interest. Passion is SO important, as a teacher I see that the students know which teachers are authentic to the subject they teach and they achieve much greater results because of it. What I'm saying is passion is linked to authenticity, if what you do models your core values then I believe you will be truly (and naturally) passionate whatever it is you choose to do. Passion is contagious, definitely on the young, but on everyone really, if you're authentic then people feel it and can't help but be inspired, moved or changed because of it.
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    Mar 13 2012: It seems that a good teacher is someone who understands the learning process and has a passion for both learning themselves and the learning experience of those they "teach". I good teacher loves to see "learning " happening in the classroom by his/her students and that is the focus of how they facilitate and manage the classroom experience. In that sense, passion goes way beyond interest, and touches into the very need for our exploration of ourselves and the world around us. "Passion" is more related to feelings and the "gut feeling" or need for the creative experience, the awareness of the driving instinctual needs; and the "interest" is the appetite of the mental processes sparked for the specific subject matter. Both passion and interest must be present and fostered in a true learning environment and the teacher must have them both themselves if the classroom experience is to reflect them both and be truly relevant, meaningful, and authentic.
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    Mar 13 2012: I think it depends on whether you mean passion for teaching or passion for the subject. My experience as a teacher, as a student, and working side by side with other teachers is that often those most passionate about their subjects make the worst teachers. Give me someone who struggled with school or, for example, math, but wants their kids to succeed more than anything every time!
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    Mar 15 2012: The word passion bothers me. I know some passionate people but they could never impart knowledge. If someone is overly passionate then he would lose patience with those who do not share the passion. Teachers provide an opportunity for learning. Either the student has an interest or maybe the class lit an interest in the subject but that occurs within the student. Passionate people tend to be inflexable. I think that passionate is the wrong word. There is a desire, or love to share knowledge. Teaching is at times the best and at times the worst profession in the world. When the light bulb come on in a childs mind it is the best. When a bright mind has wasted the opportunity to learn it is the worst profession. The teacher provided the same opportunity to both students.
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      Mar 17 2012: Hi Robert,
      Although I agree with you quite often, you've mentioned a couple ideas here that I do not agree with.

      I know lots of passionate and knowledgeable people....thankfully:>)

      I know lots of passionate people, including myself, who are very patient with others....thankfully:>)

      I do not experience passionate people as tending to be inflexable. In fact, it seems like passionate people, including myself, navigate the life experience in a way that is MORE flexable....thankfully:>)

      You write..."I think that passionate is the wrong word". Perhaps you are interpreting it differently?
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        Mar 17 2012: Hi Colleen, I always appreciate your comments and insights. I did qualify the comments with some and overly passionate people. Since the question was "How important ..." my intent was to say that a "love of teaching and a desire to impart knowledge was, to me, more essential than passion. I too am blessed to know many passionate people and some are so radical into their area of extertise that they have become set in their opinions and only accept their view. Not all passionate people fit this picture. As always , thanks for your reply and all the best. Bob
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    Mar 14 2012: Oh gosh don't ask student's why. They barely know where they are or what day it is.

    The passion is there but students are typically in survival mode. If it is not there, they will find out quickly and will make appropriate adjustments. They will not realize it until they get closer to the end of their program.

    That being said, passion is the only reason to work. I always told my kids to find out what they love to do and get paid for it. How much money is irrelevant, what is important is that you love what you do.

    I love what I do. And I love teaching others to do it too.
  • Mar 14 2012: If a teacher lacks passion they will probably not be able to inspire greatness in their students. Inspiration comes from passion is some form.
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    Mar 11 2012: I think to be effective in the classroom over many years, a teacher needs to have passion, energy, pedagogical skill, and content knowledge. Without passion, it is difficult to sustain the energy it takes to make the most of every day for every child and to come back time after time when an approach fails to connect, to try another approach. Without pedagogical skill and content knowledge, the teacher may love to teach and maybe love the kids but cannot get ideas across or figure out where stusents' misconceptions are. So passion is one piece, but if students are not learning as much as one would hope, one cannot conclude that the teacher wasn't passionately commited to her work.
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    Josh S

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    Mar 11 2012: As a student, i don't think passion plays that much of a role. Now it all depends on how the student feels about the subject. For example, if both student and educator are disinterested, there is probably going to be very little learning. But this is the same even if the educator is passionate. I think the view of the student on the subject determines the learning, not the passion of the teacher. I have had VERY disinterested teachers, but they have an obligation to fulfil, things they have to teach. So as long as they teach it, there is very little difference. If they are disinterested to the point that they dont do anything, then there is a problem. Otherwise, i dont see a huge difference. OF course, this is only my experience and it could be very different in other situations.
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    Mar 11 2012: whats you idea of passion? some are the quit logicals others loud and smiling or red and yelling. personality i think is the big question are they empathetic or i don't care do the work stupid passion for bad teaching or a passion for good teaching. I hope educators reflect what they are really teaching and not the same test questions for the next class? I respect a real educator not one thats yelling about the bad students.
    • Mar 11 2012: When I speak of Passion in teaching, I mean being authentic, I mean being engaging and being there for more than your paycheck and holidays. I never yell at my students, for there is no need. But I care about each and every one of my students. And I love each subject area I teach, and teach them with gusto. I don't believe in teaching subjects anyway, I believe in teaching the students. There is nothing that I teach them, that they can't find for themselves in todays era. But what they wont find reading some webpage is words coming to life through a teacher who is truly engaging and passionate about being there and sharing what they know, and being open to being taught by their students.
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        Mar 12 2012: As a language teacher, I get to talk about anything I want. When I talk about what the kids like, they sense that I'm trying to get on their level and they mistrust...they don't really like it. When I try and get the kids to understand what I like, by talking about things I'm passionate about, then it's completely different. They love it. I play them all the songs I used to be interested in as a kid, the ones I like now. Passion never goes out of date and only by talking engagedly about something you are really interested in can you hope to convince and interest. There will always be one or two who are just not interested...but I try not to let them get me too despondent...