Passion Based Learning


What drive you? For me, many things. Like many Canadians, hockey plays a huge role in my life (Go Leafs Go). What I wouldn’t have done for one of my teachers integrate hockey into my math or language lessons. That is essentially what passion based learning is try to do – to use your passions in order to generate learning.

An Example of Passion Based Learning

While any teacher can create a passion based learning environment, some methods are more popular than others.

Genius Hour is one such example. Essentially, genius hour is 60 minutes where students are allowed to work on any project that they are interested in, so long as the learning involves:

  1. A driving question (what they want to learn about)
  2. Research
  3. Sharing with the class, and the world (i.e., art, websites, etc.)

More information on the topic can be found in the video below

Why Passion Based Learning?

According to, there are many benefits to passion based learning.

Metacognition – Allowing the students freedom to define their own learning goals, monitor their own success, and take control of their own learning can help develop their metacognition skills.

Inquiry + Experience = Understanding – Providing students with opportunities to learn that “inquiry and their own experiences can help them achieve a deeper understanding of their world.” (

Real Life Application – giving students options in their own learning allows them to make real word applications and create very useful tools. Here are two useful examples: Class Based Projects and Individual Based Projects (video’s will open in a new tab)

Problems with Passion Based Learning

How much are you willing to commit? At one side of the spectrum, you could do a class based project where your entire class creates an app, or everyone creates their own podcast (as seen in the video above). And at the other side, you have a class full of students all doing their own individual projects.

While it may be easier to plan a passion based learning experience for the entire class, will the passion apply to everyone? Obviously, its hard to say. I know that in some of my elementary classes, almost everyone enjoyed sports of any kind, so this method would have been ideal. I also had classes where I was the only one that seemed to care about any sports. With that being said, during his blog, Chris describes his process of create a Genius Hour project, and some of the speed bumps he hit along the way. First, he quickly realized that 75% of his class had the same interests, while the other 25% fell behind.  He also realized that children can be “childish” when it comes to picking topics (quoting one of his students that wanted to research if dogs will eat human puke).

What about the other side? While making a student centered project will obviously appeal to the student, is it easier for the teacher? I would argue that the group based projects would be more appealing to most. Having to approve, aid, monitor, and mark 20-30 completely different projects is definitely an intimidating task.

Chris offered an interesting compromise: he is allowing students several options as opposed to one main project or 30 individual ones. Is this the ultimate option? I guess thats where you have to draw the line. Will you take time to invest in your students? Or will you make your students invest in you?



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