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By Angela Maiers

Let's Close the Passion Gap

In most conversations about education, there is one guest who is rarely invited to the table: Passion.

You are far more likely to hear the words “assessment,” “standardize,” “common core” and “pedagogy” than you are to hear the word “passion.”

There is a passion gap in school, and students are disappearing into it, and drowning in ennui. Let’s begin closing that gap. Right here, right now.



Why does passion matter? What are the real-world implications of an education system that discourages passion?

In a column in The New York Times, Thomas Friedman explained that “we need everyone to be innovating new products and services to employ the people who are being liberated from routine work by automation and software. The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime.”

So if passion is so essential in the work world, how do we invite passion to stay in school past fourth grade? How do we bridge the passion gap between school and the rest of life?

Schools mistake passion for an emotion, as something kids like to do in their spare time. Those are hobbies. Passion is what you must do, even if you have to suffer to do it. Passion is the genius of all geniuses. It’s discipline at a level we can’t comprehend. It can’t be satisfied by project-based learning.

At the top of this post is the slide deck for my keynote presentation on The Passion Gap.

Below I provide an extensive array of resources of how to bring passion back to the classroom. 

Resources mentioned in the talk:

  • Genius Matters, my book that guides student to become self-aware and empathetic, and discover and explore their passions.
  • Our online course on the tenets of Choose2Matter is the "next level" - it introduces compassion and solving heartbreak to passion driven learning.
  • The “Passion Profile” video by student Catherine Broyles.
  • Thrively tool for discovering and exploring student passion.
  • Nepris platform for connecting students with mentors.
  • Storify compiling the reactions from the audience at my “Closing the Passion Gap” keynote at PETE&C.