A colleague of mine brought up passion-based learning, and asked if this would be at all realistic or even possible. My gut instinct said yes of course, anything with the correct framework and planners is possible. Out of curiosity, because my daughter at age 7 already knows her passion – cooking – I decided to further explore exactly what passion-based learning was, and if her desire to be a chef could somewhat dictate her learning at school. After some research, I came up with a general planning template that would change depending on a school’s overall vision, values, teaching philosophy and mission statement – the information I would use to design the over-arching and customizable educational framework. The planner only addresses a project-based approach; however, I believe a planner could be designed for play-based or any other approach to learning.
For simplicity’s sake, the planner below is based on a school allowing a single time block where students could pursue passion-based projects, and highlights the following key elements of what passion-based learning should be:
The planner would serve as a reminder to teachers that all children are geniuses in their own right. There are no set time lengths so as to allow the flow of projects to occur naturally.
Subjects & Passions: The first step in the process would be for the teacher to decide which subject(s) they would like student’s passions to link to. (This could be flipped with the brainstorming session, in which case each student or group of students would connect to different subjects).
Brainstorming Passions: The brainstorming session would occur next, where students would be free to share and talk about their latest passion. For some students a passion may remain a constant for a long time, and this is fine; for others passions may change throughout the year. The group discussion would also include how each passion relates to the specific subject(s) area(s).
Grouping Students by Passion: Once the latest passions have been discussed, the teacher would then pair or group students accordingly. Some students may work alone as well, and this would be fine. The teacher would then begin filling out columns one and two on the planner with student names and passions.
Linking Passions With Subject Areas & Objectives: Column three would be for the teacher to decide which subject areas would correlate best with each passion and then in column four match up curriculum objectives that would link accordingly.
Real-World Scenarios, Projects & Resources: Column five would allow for the teacher to brainstorm a list of real-world scenarios that link to the passions and objectives – which would be discussed with students before planning the projects. Students would be given the opportunity to decide which real-world scenario they connect with the most, and a project would be designed from there. Within column six, an area for listing classroom resources has also been provided.
Observations: The last column on the planner would be for observations during the projects – what worked well, what didn’t, ideas for next time, etc.
With this passion-based planner, the teacher would need to be flexible enough to allow for different projects to develop simultaneously, different subject areas to progress concurrently, and different curriculum outcomes to be set depending on passions and projects. The teacher would truly become a facilitator of learning and would be providing the skills for those students to pursue their passions for life!