Passion & Self-Directed Learning

The Discovery Center is based on many pedagogical perspectives, more generally considered progressive education. The core principles focus on student-centered learning, invoking intrinsic motivation.
Passion (from the Latin verb patere meaning to suffer) is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion, compelling enthusiasm or desire for anything. –wikipedia

Intrinsic motivation is the self-desire to seek out new things and new challenges, to analyze one’s capacity, to observe and to gain knowledge. It is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on external pressures or a desire for reward. –wikipedia

Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) or self-education is the act of teaching oneself about a subject or subjects in which one has had little to no formal education. Many notable contributions have been made by autodidacts. –wikipedia


27 Cognitive Actions That Promote Self-Directed Learning -by Terry Heick

  • Challenge something
  • Make an observation
  • Draw a conclusion
  • Question something
  • Revise a question based on observation & data
  • Critique something
  • Explain the significance
  • Revise something
  • Transfer a lesson or philosophical stance from one situation to another
  • Improve a design
  • Identify a cause and effect
  • Compare and contrast two or more things
  • Test the validity of a model
  • Separate causes from symptoms
  • Identify the primary and secondary causes of a problem
  • Adapt something for a new need or circumstance
  • Make a prediction and observe what occurs
  • Narrate a sequence
  • Study and visually demonstrate nuance
  • Identify and explain a pattern
  • Study the relationship between text and subtext
  • Elegantly emphasize nuance
  • Critically evaluate a socially-accepted idea
  • Extract a lesson from nature
  • Take & defend a position
  • Record notes during and after observation of something
  • Form a theory & revise it based on observation and/or data


Book Excerpts from The Passion-Driven Classroom: A framework for Teaching & Learning by Angela Maiers and Amy Sandvold, ©2011.

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

Passion: The Latin origin of the word comes from “passio,” or suffering. Suffering pain is a very real part of it and one of the reasons many people are not willing to expose themselves to it. Passionate learners combine fun, playfulness, and discipline and, at the same time, accept the necessity for endurance and perseverance.

Passionate Learners are:

  • Fiercely driven
  • Determined to be excellent
  • Introspective
  • Open-minded
  • Challenged to discover
  • Self-directed
  • Actively involved
  • Self-aware
  • Adaptable
  • Perceptive
  • Reflective
  • Flexible
  • Willing to risk
  • Courageous
  • Dedicated
  • Problem solvers
  • Unconcerned with impressing others
  • Conscientious in convictions

What can Passion do?

  • Creates a sense of urgency
  • Provides focus
  • Ignites curiosity
  • Promotes innovation
  • Supports collaboration
  • Raises the standard
  • Encourages accountability
  • Allows us to be courageous
  • Provides us with energy
  • Becomes contagious

Students discover that learning happens when and if we are able to:

  • Find words to describe it
  • Discover strategies to capture and collect it
  • Develop research that’s changing what’s possible, changing our understanding of what can be done
  • Collect images that move us to wonder more – or move us to action

If we want students to be responsible, interdependent and independent, then WE must let them “BE!”

  • Be active
  • Be strategic
  • Be flexible
  • Be mindful
  • Be reflective
  • Be purposeful
  • Be courageous
  • Be innovative
  • Be engaged
  • Be responsible and responsive

Passion Quotes

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” –John Maxwell

“A strong passion for any object will ensure success, for the desire of the end will point out the means.” –William Hazlitt

“Above all , be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.” –Author Unknown

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” –Anthony J. D’Angelo

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” –Harold Whitman

“Follow your heart, but be quite for a while first. Ask questions, then feel the answer. Learn to trust your heart.” –Author Unknown

“Follow your passion, and success will follow you.” –Arthur Buddhold

“Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion.” –Martha Graham

“If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.” –T. Alan Armstrong

“Never underestimate the power of passion.” – Eve Sawyer

“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.” –Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

“Passion is in all great searches and is necessary to all creative endeavors.” –W. Eugene Smith

“So try to pursue the very things that you are passionate about – that is the difference between good and great!” –Shawn Doyle

“The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.” –Earl Nightingale

“Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.” –Donald Trump

“When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible.” –Nancy Coey

“Passion is the genesis of genius.” –Anthony Robbins

“Passion and purpose go hand in hand. When you discover your purpose, you will normally find it’s something you’re tremendously passionate about.” –S. Pavlina

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” –Nelson Mandela

“Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

“All human actions have one or more of these seven clauses: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire.” Aristotle

“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles with direct them.” –Napoleon Bonaparte

“With me poetry has not been purpose, but a passion.” Edgar Allan Poe

“I imagine a school system that recognizes learning is natural, that a love of learning is normal, and that real learning is passionate learning.” –Tom Peters, Author ‘Re-imagine’