Passion…a 21st Century Skill? You Decide! (Pt 3 of 4)

The question of so-called "21st Century Skills" has been the subject of hot debate in education and political circles for some time now. Educators, business and community leaders, lawmakers, and citizens have struggled to conceptualize the essential elements that will most prepare our students for success.

Although the labels may vary, the following are most often offered up as the strongest indicators in the classroom and the world:   

  • Critical Thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Adaptability
  • Communication Skills
  • Creativity and Intellectual Curiosity   
  • Information and Media Literacy Skills
  • Collaboration 
  • Self-Direction and Awareness
  • Social Responsibility

These things are, of course, important; but they are not enough? Consider this:

"The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does"
Hugh Macleod, How To Be Creative

The ability to adapt and think critically. The desire to ask serious questions about ourselves and the world. The ability to analyze complex issues to find answers to those questions. The drive to take intellectual risks.  The pursuit of strong and deep foundation of knowledge. The confidence to connect and communicate in a global dialogue. These are not only issues of skills, but also issues of passion.

How many of our students possess those competencies, but lack the passion and motivation to engage deeply in the work because they see no point. Or in the words of Mr. Macleod, they have the potential to change the world, but do not want to because they have not yet found the passion to ignite, sustain, and continue the effort.

Before we write passion off as a "warm fuzzy", "soft".or a "touchy feely" extra, consider this:

 "We ­may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion."


Passionate people are:


Look familiar?

Passion is needed to:

So you tell me, can we really do this work without passion

More thoughts on Passion:

Part One: Education is for the Passionate – Isn't it?

Part Two: Passionization


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  • Maya Frost

    I love this post, Angela! We so often forget the importance of passion, especially when it comes to education. I have had so many conversations with students and adults who have no idea what they love and no clarity about their talents. The good news, of course, is that I’ve also had many conversations with students who are absolutely ON FIRE about what they are learning and very clear about how they want to use it! (I featured a few of them in my book.)

    If we want our kids to have a blazing sense of direction–and we do!–we need to make sure that their gifts are amplified rather than diminished in the education process.

    Can’t wait to receive your book, Angela–we’re really on the same page in so many ways!


  • AngelaMaiers

    Right back at ya! I am eagerly awaiting yours. These are powerful, powerful words to remember:

    If we want our kids to have a blazing sense of direction–and we do!–we need to make sure that their gifts are amplified rather than diminished in the education process.

    Love it! I can not wait to connect!

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