“Interest precedes learning.” Richard Saul Wurman.

When I decided to pursue my masters, I chose to complete it at the University of Alberta in the area of literacy. I had many people tell me, “there are easier ways to get your masters.” And probably they were right. Yet, because I was interested in what I was learning, my fatigue upon arrival at each evening class would quickly turn to elation. I would leave class energized: ready to talk about what I had discovered, ready to test out my learning with my students, ready to read some more. I certainly could have gone an easier route, but I know it would not have ignited the same passion within me.

How do we ensure that our students’ interests precede their learning? After all, we do have curriculum to cover. And that curriculum is determined by the government, not each of us as teachers, nor by our students. Ah, but herein lies the secret of the master teacher. Ignite the passion and stir the emotion within your students. Invite questions and curiosity. Use real world scenarios to bring relevance into your classroom.

On Friday, Lee Crockett demonstrated this beautifully at a session I attended. He showed a diagram of a fault line illustrating how the juncture of two plates can cause an earthquake. Although the diagram was well-exectued, it certainly did not peek my interest.

And then he showed footage from March 11, 2011 when an earthquake took Japan in its grip causing massive damage, destruction and the death of thousands. As we watched the water surge, the roads and buildings disappear, vehicles thrown about and crumpled as if mere toys, the feeling in the room changed. Instantly our interest and emotions were heightened. As a teacher, it was obvious how this video could stir the interest and emotion of our students. Imagine the questions, dialogue and writing after watching a video such as this. Quite naturally topics of science, religion, health, mathematics, economics and ethics would come into play with language arts the root of it all. Curricular outcomes would be met and the students would be fully engaged in the process.

Invite the real world into your classroom tomorrow. Watch the sparks ignite!

Curious about the video? Click here: Amateur footage of Japan earthquake


2 thoughts on Passion

  1. I still remember the walk that took Adam 30 mins to the mailboxes. He looked at everything and made me really appreciate the “real world” and all it had to offer. It was in this amazing world and the walk to the mailboxes that he learned about seasons. Sure we read stories and looked at pictures but in all reality it was the walk to the Mailboxes where he really learned. It really made me think about my classroom and my approach. Have a great week!

  2. Wise words. It’s as if the “idea” of something, like a fault line needs flesh and bones for us to get it! Same with kids, no doubt.

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