Passionate Learning

One of the keys to the prevention to build-up of anger in the classroom (or anywhere) is a participation in learning that is welcomed, that engages the passion of an individual. Passionate learning can provide energy and insight for any participant, with added benefits for a teacher. When a teacher engages in learning that touches the passionate for her, and is able to observe and formulate the learning process that takes place, she is in a favorable position for passing on details of the quality and process of learning to her students. She will be more intimately familiar with the frustrations and successes of the students as well.
Any amount of curiosity or passion that is brought into the schooling of a child or young adult will go a long way toward their acceptance and welcoming of the school process, and avoidance of boredom, frustration, and anger.

Whether a person takes on knitting, kayaking, or kick-boxing, the process can be observed and appreciated – and then relayed to others (students) who might then find their own passions to explore, whether within a classroom or outside of school. The skills of observation, attention, determination, and much more may be piqued and enhanced.

Example of Passionate Learning Sculpture: Glenn Nystrup
In 1994 I was told that an elderly gentleman, Tony Gennarelli, was to offer a class near my home on stone-carving. I tried the class and immediately found that I enjoyed working with stone and had some skill at it. As I watched the learning process I was involved in, I noticed how much information was coming to me through my hands and muscles and eyes. The interaction between my body and that first piece of limestone was beautiful. What a challenge and joy it was to simply try to create a flat surface using hammer and chisels or hand-held power tools. So difficult! And the challenge on other sculptures, of obtaining symmetry in a face, or the satisfactory curve of a muscle, was going to require a long learning process.

I found I had the patience for it. After some long dusty hours of experimentation, and multiple little discoveries, I began to have success. I began to learn the tools, the stone, and my body. The fist sculpture I completed, after smaller experimental pieces, was the Angel (pictured within). It seemed a monumental undertaking at the beginning (and continued to seem so to the end) yet did reach completion—a joyful, learning-packed experience the whole way.

Interesting notes:

  • Limestone is usually an organic sedimentary rock that forms from the accumulation of shell, coral,
    and algal debris—under ocean pressure.
  • Marble is a metamorphic rock formed when limestone is exposed to high temperatures and
    pressures. The limestone recrystallizes forming a denser rock… (far more effort needed by the sculptor)
  • African Wonderstone has an invisible grain to it, and when a chisel is worked in the wrong direction a chunk of rock may inadvertently fly off. The result? Considerably more work!
  • Persian Onyx has an even deeper grain to it…
  • When a mistake is made in stone-carving, the entire area must be reshaped—especially when working toward symmetry—there is no putting-back of material.
  • Stone-carving is what eventually pulled me away from another major passion I had been engaged in for many years—Rock-climbing. Then, when I had a five-hour block of choice in front of me… “Hmmm,studio/cliff-face/studio/cliff-face?”
  • After stone-carving came other passionate-learning experiences, such as birding across the continent and beyond, and writing. Too old to learn new tricks? Hmmm

Whether the learning-experience/passionate-engagement is one the is sought or stumbled upon, it holds the potential for careful observation for anyone who might wish to teach others— whether about that actual topic, or simply about the interesting process of learning itself. While the experiences may be solo or overlap with other passionate undertakings, there are some things that will remain consistent throughout—the possibility of learning about oneself and the learning process. Inner growth and the building of knowledge and understanding may all be enriched.