Since we are children, we are pressured into finding our passion early on. Not only must we find it, but also we are expected to pursue it and stick with it. We must have an idea in elementary, find it in high school, and pursue it in university. Quite frankly, I never agreed with this process. In all my years of schooling, I have found my hobbies, likes and dislikes; but it was not until a degree later and a new job that I discovered my true passion. How can we give our students the opportunity to discover their passion?
I’m not going to lie. I Googled information for this blog post, and was disappointed to see so many advice columns suggesting career aptitude tests. Should we be so lucky to score something on a test on a given day, and have a realization that this is the answer to your future. As I continued my search, I began to realize that there is no clear cut answer to helping out students find their passion. There is no map to follow and, oh look, X marks the spot and I now know what I want to do with my life (also, how many times did YOU change your mind about your career path from ages 16-18?). However, amongst this search, I discovered ways in which we can help our students discover their passion.
Be Open Minded. So many times students feel that they need to choose a certain career path because it is the “smart” path to take. This path will undoubtedly lead to a job and a happy life. Let’s show-and-tell our students that instead of choosing the path that they think is right, choose the path that they like. Choose the path that is filled with your likes, your interests, and the possibilities you cannot wait to see come to fruition. Don’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer? Let your students know that there so many other possibilities and choices out there. We need show them how to be open minded to other paths they may not have thought to take before. As a teacher or an educator, we spend a lot of time with them throughout the day, and we should be praising them for their interests, likes and questions- not putting them down. We should expose them to different careers and choices and show them what their options are.
Intrinsic Motivation. Yes, extrinsic motivation systems have some beneficial aspects to it, but in terms of life lessons, we should be focusing on internal motivation. Have students focus on the parts of their life that they do for the sole reason that they just like to do it. There is no reward gained, no recognition; they are doing this because they truly enjoy it. Distinguishing what these aspects are can help them get one step closer to discovering their passion.
It’s Okay Not to Know. Students mayknow what their hobbies are, and where their interests lie, but that doesn’t mean they know their passion yet; that’s okay. Although we are helping them discover their passion, we also need to be aware that at younger ages, this is exceptionally hard to do. I only discovered my passion at 23 years old. How can we expect a 15 year old to do it? Giving them to tools to discover it, while simultaneously acknowledging the difficulty and relieving the pressure, all make for great ways to find their passion.
Collaboration. Although this step may not be entirely about finding their passion, I believe it is a useful tool that can be effective anywhere it is applied. We need to move away from competitiveness. Students compete for grades, for attention; they want to be number one all by themselves. Is this realistic? In life, we are, for the most part, working in teams or with other people. Seldom do we work independently all the time. We need to teach our students that collaboration is not a bad thing. Working together will still get the job done, and will also allow you to see different view points, gain insight into new ideas and learn new things. As a team, we can all find our passion together, and enjoy the process.
Fortunately, there is no map that leads us directly to our path in life. I say fortunately because I think the process of finding this path is just as important as getting there.
“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it” – Rosalia de Castro