As I was finishing up Sir Ken Robinson's book, "Out of Our Minds," I reflected a lot on his discussions about helping students understand their passions. I liked his notion that being good at something does not necessarily equate to passion. Robinson explains, “Being good at something is not enough. Plenty of people do things they are good at but do not really care for. Being in your element is not only about aptitude, it’s about passion: it is about loving what you do. One of the signs of being in your element is that time changes and an hour can feel like five minutes” (227). Robinson shares a very valuable lesson that we should teach our students to understand. We want our students to not just be good at their job, but to be happy doing it.
There is nothing more rewarding than those experiences in life, in which we feel that only a few minutes have passed, but really hours have gone by. In these moments, we are having fun and doing the very things we are passionate about. I want to direct my students to find their passions; yet this is a hard job to facilitate, and I am still learning how to achieve this goal in my own classroom. I often find myself trying to think up ways I can not only help my student figure out what they love doing and are passionate about, but also find ways to guide them towards college majors and career paths that align with these passions. While a huge task, Robinson provides a method for achieving this goal: "The best strategy is usually to put people in situations and give them challenges that reveal their abilities; some of which they may have been unaware themselves" (228). I could not agree more with Robinson. In order for us to figure out what we are good at and whether or not we like it, we need to physically be put in those situations. I relate this strategy to my own experiences with teaching. The teaching credential program through CSUSM has immersed me into the field of teaching. While teaching has been at times, very difficult; I have had the best experience, because I am learning how to overcome challenges everyday. These moments where I overcome difficulty, such as the struggles of building a writing unit or managing classroom behavior, for example, has helped me realize the abilities and strengths I never knew I had. Further, my experiences teaching reveal to me that I really am passionate about teaching. I know that if I wasn't, I would have already given up months ago!
My teaching program at CSUSM, through the hands on clinical practice model, has given me the opportunity to find and develop my passion each day I spend in the classroom. We should give our students these same type of hands on opportunities in High School to find and develop their passions so that they are better prepared for their futures. I have recently learned that one High School does just that. At the school I co-teach at, Carlsbad High School, I learned about a very unique program they offer their students which also gives students real world experience to explore their passions. The High School offers a program called Academy Internship to its 11th grade students. In the program students intern with a company of their interest/choice for an entire semester. Students learn a lot about what it would be like to work in the field they are interning in, and the program gives students the skills they will use in both a major and career in this field. Students chose to intern with a wide variety of companies such as fashion, marketing, IT, coding, nursing, teaching, graphic design; the list goes on. At the end of the semester students present what they learned and will take away from the experience, and then use their experience to help them chose their college and career paths.
This program is so beneficial to students, because Academy Intern really makes a huge impact on the important decisions students must make in their senior year. I think it is great that many students go through Academy Internship and gain confidence that they are in fact passionate about the work they completed throughout the semester. These students go on to colleges that have majors that aligns with the line of work they completed. Further, these interning students are ahead of the rest of their classmates when they finish college, since the internship provides them with actual field work experience that they can put on their resumes. What an opportunity! What I value even more about this program, other than its ability to guide students along their chosen path, is that it also guides students away from careers that they wrongly thought they would be passionate about. While it may be disappointing for a student to learn that they are not actually cut out to be a nurse or a computer programmer like they had envisioned, students save a lot of time and money that they would have wasted if they were not given this unique opportunity. Without Academy Intern, many students would probably have gone on to major in that field and years later have to make either a major switch or career switch.
According to the National Center for Education statistics, 80 percent of students in the United States end up changing their major at least once during college! 80 percent is a lot of students! To me, it makes sense that the percentage of major switches is high, however; since most students are not granted the opportunity to work in the field (like Academy Intern) they choose before they begin college. In high school, most of us do not know what we are passionate about, so picking a major at only 17 years old without any experience almost inevitably means we will choose the wrong path! I know I was very lost at this time, and as a result; I too am one of those 80 percent of students who switched their major after 3 years. Switching majors is costly, as many of us students have to go back and take different classes to fulfill our new major's requirements. It also prolongs the college process; switching my major from Liberal Studies to Literature and Writing not only raised my student loan debt, but it also took me an extra two years to complete college. Therefore, I think Carlsbad High School has implemented a fabulous program that really serves students in very meaningful ways. I think Robinson would value this program as it puts its students in situations that "challenge them" in ways that "reveal their abilities." Academy Internship guides students towards their passions and helps them really plan their futures. I would love to see more High Schools offer intern programs like this one, so that students could get that real first hand experience figuring out not just what they are good at, but what they are truly passionate about.
My response to Sir Ken Robinson's take on Emotional Intelligence
Quote: “Emotional intelligence includes a range of personal and interpersonal qualities: being able to understand and express personal feelings; being able to get along with other people, to communicate clearly and with empathy for the listener; and responding positively and with sensitivity to new situations” (175). Questions: How can we teach our students “personally growth” and “emotional intelligence?” What are some lesson ideas we can incorporate into our classrooms? What are some practices we can make a part of our everyday classrooms to stimulate emotional growth for our students? How can we incorporate emotional intelligence and personal growth into the maths and sciences?
Connection: We need to teach our students how to be emotionally intelligent! There seems to be a disconnect between education and emotions/feelings. We tend to value logic/reasoning over emotions in the educational world. I love the above quote, because these personal and interpersonal skills are so important to any job field. People need these personal and interpersonal skills to be successful, to be respected, and to be valued. We need to teach these skills to our students. When thinking about how I can teach emotional intelligence, I am reminded of a few really awesome lessons that Patricia Stall had us teacher candidates participate in. In her lessons, she taught us the traits of good and bad listeners and as well, had us participate in certain activities where we weren't aloud to speak out of a certain order, so that students could fully explain their ideas. Her instructions were often very difficult, because we wanted to engage in the conversations that our peers were having. The lessons showed us teacher candidates how difficult it is to be a good listener and not interject our thoughts when we want to. I learned that we often do not fully listen to the ideas of our peers, because we begin to make assumptions and opinions often before we allow our peers to finish their thoughts. The practice of good listening is something that I have been working on lately and try to be cognisant of. I would like to incorporate/teach these type of skills into my classrooms. Listening skills, surprisingly need to be taught, we do not simply have these skills even if we think we do; even us adults struggle!
Epiphany/Aha: Robinson states that many people tend to “feel out of touch with their feelings” (174). I believe there to be a lot of truth in his statement, as the Western world of medicine seems to value and distribute an overwhelming amount of pharmaceutical medications that are meant to aid human anxieties and emotional disorders. Frankly, it seems that while some may indeed need these types of medications, there are probably a large amount of people who could benefit from alternatives to these pharmaceutical drugs.Yet, their lacking of emotional intelligence and ability to understand their feelings are the reason they seek out these drugs in the first place. If we taught our students how to be emotionally intelligent and how to understand their feelings, our students would be better equipped for their futures.