Passion Is Contagious

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Jun
  • 11
  • 2006

I’m headed out to Japan again. This time, I’ll be with folks from my school; last time, I was with a group from another school where a friend works. Now that I think about it, my two friends who teach Japanese have more than the language in common.

Both Japanese teachers that I’ve gone on this trip with are passionate about their study of the language. They don’t simply know the language, blasé about their understanding; they both have an interest in the language and culture that I don’t see in many other foreign/world language teachers. Working with students on figuring things out, on explaining some new grammar pattern or new vocabulary, their interest in Japanese is practically palpable. And passion is contagious, so the students get more and more excited about their language study.

The Vast Expanse Of Summer

That passion is a product of a genuine interest and liking for a subject. As most of us teachers stare off into the seemingly endless mist of summer, let’s take stock of a few things. It always seems like it’ll last forever from this vantage point, yet always zooms past so quickly before we realize it. We all have passions and maybe summer is a time to develop those things that are otherwise ignored during the frantic rush that is the school year.

Remember “The Bigs”

First, what do you need to get done by the end of this summer?

It doesn’t have to be work related and certainly summer is a time to cultivate those interests outside of academics. Now that you have this solid chunk of time away from the kids, away from correcting homework, away from planning for the week/month/year, what are your Bigs? What things must you absolutely finish this summer?

Bread And Roses

Second, what do you want to do?

All this talk about “needs” is fine. “Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses,” right? A part of us dies if all we do are the pure essentials and nothing more. We need those essentials, but we need time to cut loose and have fun, too. What are your roses this summer? Sounds hokey, but what feeds your soul and keeps you going?

Time To Reflect

Third, how did the year go for you?

Before you forget everything of this last school year and before you get too relaxed to do this properly, try to carve out time for the next few days in which to reflect on how the 2005-2006 school year went for you. Think about your best day, your worst day, and exactly what made those two days so radically different. What new things did you try this year? What did you do the same as last year? If you had a DeLorean, what changes would you make? What can you learn about how to plan for next year? Care to pat yourself on the back? Care to send yourself to the corner with a dunce hat on? Try to write down all the painful and delightful details so you remember.

See This Film

Fourth and last in my little tirade, yet also working to tie all this together, what’s your passion?

My girlfriend and I went to see An Inconvenient Truth today. While I think some folks infer ulterior motives that aren’t there, there’s some truth to the objections. I’ll leave the argument over the quality for another day. As an educator watching this movie, I think I noticed something different than most.

As a more liberal-minded fellow, I’ve hated seeing Al Gore in the political arena that last decade or so. It always seemed to me as if he wasn’t really interested in the race, no matter which one he was in. He never stepped up the rhetoric to anywhere near as aggressive a stance as he needed; whereas I saw Bush commercials on a regular basis, I only saw Gore commercials once in a blue moon. Gore simply wasn’t as visible. That may be due to my blue-state geography, but I’m not sure. All I know for certain is that Gore never made many attempts to sell himself from what I saw. He regularly appeared lifeless and too willing to concede (and not just that ill-fated election specifically, but in general).

An Inconvenient Truth, however, shows a Gore full of verve and energy. He has passion for the subject and it shows. Gore is funny at times, convincing at others, and consistently appears to be enjoying himself. This shows Gore in his natural habitat (no pun intended); this is where he looks the most comfortable and at home. So maybe this is exactly what he should be doing instead of being the president (even though he clearly won the popular vote).

I’m passionate about music, education, relationships, good stories, certain political issues, literacy, movies, ethics, art. What are you passionate about? How can you work to develop that passion over the summer? Then, how can you then take that passion into the classroom? Passion is contagious, you know.

1 comment

1. Matt Hall says:

[4/14/2008 - 7:48 pm]