Another podcast I really enjoy spending time with is the Freakonomic Radio podcast. In a recent encore episode, How to Get More Grit in Your Life, host Stephen Dubner interviewed psychologist and grit expert, Angela Duckworth. Here is the excerpt on passion I found particularly interesting:
DUCKWORTH: I define grit as passion and perseverance for especially long-term goals. Let’s start with the first thing I think that gritty people develop in the order in which they develop it, which is interest. So one thing that I found about paragons of grit, you know, real outliers in passion and perseverance, is that they have extremely well-developed interests. They cultivate something which grabs their attention initially, but that they become familiar with enough, knowledgeable enough that they wake up the next day and the next day and the next year, and they’re still interested in this thing. And I think that is something that we can actually intentionally decide: “I want to be the kind of person who stays interested in something.” And so that passion really does have to come first.
DUBNER: What about, however, if I, or my kid, or someone that I really care about — if I’m a teacher, my students — what if they can’t find a passion?
DUCKWORTH: Yeah, I don’t know if there are many commencement speeches given these days that don’t actually exhort people to follow their passion. And I think that just strikes the fear of God into people because they then think, “Oh, my God I don’t have one. Now I’m really screwed.” And I think the idea of “following a passion” is just the wrong way to phrase it. “Following a passion” sounds like it’s there in the world fully formed, you just have to dig it up under the right bush. Really, you have to foster a passion. You have to actively put some work in and try things, and try them for a little while, and get into them, and then you have to switch, right? Part of grit is actually doing enough exploration early on, quitting enough things early on, that you can find something that you’re willing to stick with. So I don’t know that there’s an easy prescription then for telling people how exactly to do that. But I think one misunderstanding, which is very dangerous, is to suggest to people that passion just falls into your lap, and it’s love at first sight. It’s not like that. It’s not like that for the people that I’ve been studying.
In our Profile of a Graduate, we include the dispositions of persistent, curious and resilient. As I listened to the podcast, I made the connection between our Profile and “fostering a passion,” and am curious…
How are we helping our learners foster a passion?
Do we value fostering a passion as an iterative process – a process where learners have the space to practice and develop grit, persistence, curiosity and resilience?
Through her research, Duckworth has identified four traits that gritty people have in abundance: interest, practice, purpose and hope. Interest is the foundation, and it’s fueled by passion. I’m fascinated by the ideas shared by Duckworth and am curious what other educators do to intentionally foster learner passions/interests.
How do you intentionally foster learner passions/interests? What strategies are you employing? Share in the comments!
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