On March 20, 2013, our high school (Glenbrook North) will host the second Spartans Connect All School Workshop – a learner led, passion-based conference. Our continued goal is to create sparks, ignite passions, and make connections through diverse learning experiences in order to grow stronger as a community.
Workshops, breakouts, and events make up the day led by students, faculty members, community members and any combination of the three. The participants are both students and teachers. In other words, the formal role of teachers teaching students disappears. The formal curriculum, bell schedules, and external accountability disappear On this passion-based learning conference day, we are all teachers. We are all learners.
Just like the past two years ago, we asked our students and faculty what they are passionate about. But we didn’t stop there. As Dan Pink said, “If people tap their strengths, and use them in the service of something larger than themselves, passion will take care of itself.” So we asked questions like these:
- What do you do for fun?
- What are your interests?
- How do you spend your free time?
- What do you love doing – something you get lost in, find flow with?
- What are you passionate about.
And as Marc Prensky recently said,
If every teacher asked every kid “What are you passionate about?” & recorded & used the answers, our education would improve overnight.
— Marc Prensky (@marcprensky) March 3, 2013
We not only asked, we turned over the day to these passions and asked all of our learners to lead the school in learning about those passions – ideas that allow others to explore, experiment, and play with their area of passion along side other curious minds.
As Tony Wagner in Creating Innovators suggests, exploring one’s interests is critical to the development of innovative and joyous learners: play leads to passion which leads to purpose. Sir Ken Robinson adds that this passion-based learning is “the place where the things you love to do and the things you are good at come together” and he emphasizes that this “is essential to [one’s] well-being and ultimate success because we connect with something fundamental to [our] identity, purpose, and well-being”.
Sharing our interests and passions provides a great opportunity to experience this place that Robinson and Wagner discuss, and it is the key to a successful Spartans Connect. As Stephen Johnson said in Where Good Ideas Come From, “Chance favors the connected mind” and Spartans Connect is another opportunity for us to build those critical connections!