A dancer. An artist. A psychologist. A TV presenter. A mechanic. An insect keeper. A teacher. These are the things that we - teachers on the Water Floor - wanted to be when we were younger (and no, we weren’t fibbing about that last one)! While some of us have obviously gone on to live out these dreams, for the rest of us, these pursuits have fallen by the wayside, buried under the weight of school reports, passing years, and ‘real life’. But what if this was not the case? What if we had continued these pastimes with the earnest confidence and enthusiasm of childhood into our older years? Could we be turning on the TV one morning to see one of our colleagues presenting the morning news? Or seeing their work displayed in art galleries around the world? Possibly. Would we have experienced the richness and reward of a life spent doing things that light us up and bring us joy? Most definitely.
At The Harbour School, this is where Passion Projects (amongst many other things) come in. Kids have endless interests and endless enthusiasm. And there shouldn’t be any reason why the exploration of these is secondary to the requirements of the school curriculum. In fact, encouraging students to pursue and learn more about the things that really get them going, and to become lifelong learners is exactly what THS is about. So how do we support these projects?
In the first part of this school year, each class spent time with our wonderful school librarian, Kylie, exploring their personal strengths and what they enjoyed doing. At the same time, we also looked at cultivating a “growth mindset” and the role that practice, grit and determination play in achievement and success. We then started to consider what things we would love to be good at, but haven’t had a chance to explore further yet. It was a wonder to see the creativity and open-mindedness of the students’ ideas, and the way in which, for them, no idea was too grand or too small, too frivolous or too serious. The topics were as varied as they were surprising, with everything from ice skating and marine biology to dog training and Mexican cuisine.
We are very lucky at The Harbour School to have parents who are great supporters of the home-school learning connection, and who see the value in taking students’ curiosity and thirst for knowledge out of the classroom and into the real world. As such, recent weeks have seen a flurry of enthusiastic students exploring their passions in their free time, through wrestling lessons, meeting up with Hong Kong Parkour groups, making YouTube videos, visiting animals in their natural habitats and so much more. Watching students excitedly bouncing into class ready to write about their experiences in their portfolios, brandishing cakes to try, pictures to show their friends, and new skills to demonstrate is the most rewarding thing to see as a teacher. To know that we are setting them up to be lifelong learners who will carry that joy with them into adulthood is even better.
So what about us adults and our forgotten passions? C. S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream another dream.” If we are to practise what we preach in our quest to cultivate lifelong learners, we need to follow our students’ footsteps and make time to follow our own passions, to do the things which bring us that same sense of well-being, joy and accomplishment. So on that note, I’m off to find those ballet shoes...