Passion versus Desire

“Follow your passion”, they say! “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion” (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel). I’ve heard sayings like these, amongst others, coming of age in Small Town, Maryland.

It wasn’t that long ago when I went to a teacher in-service training where the speaker told the crowd to have students create a passion notebook. Students were to use their passion notebooks to help them capture the ideas that they were passionate about, and the students were to write about their ideas during the writing block. I bought into this teaching strategy, because it was a novel solution to the writing woes of my students for that time (circa 2005). Fast forward twelve years, I’ve learned that passion is based on emotions and emotions change with the weather.

Merriam – Dictionary defined passion as a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept. Other dictionaries have defined passion as any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.

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On the other hand, Merriam – Dictionary defined desire as a “conscious impulse toward something that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment“. Other dictionaries have defined desire as, “to wish or long for; crave; want.” According to those definitions, there is a huge difference between passion and desire. And based on one of my earlier posts, it isn’t passion that leads to renewable learning

I believe that passions are short-term and may or may not remain with the learner until they are fulfilled. Whereas  desires are long-term and remain with the learner until they are attained. Desire brings about transformation while passion brings about shifts. Acting much like a fad, passions come and go, while desires form internal standards that are followed until the craving has been satiated.

Instead of telling students to follow their passion, I now tell students to follow their desire, because passion is based on emotions. Asking students to follow their passion will only lead to shallow learning. Thus students’ interests, preferences, and needs will be based on shallow curiosities. However, desire is based on the joy of attaining the wish or craving. Hence, asking students to identify their learning desires will lead to deeper learning. Desire is linked to an intrinsic goal or deep hunger that is not satisfied until the goal is attained. Ergo, I believe that learning can only be truly personalized when student’s learning desires are factored into the equation.

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