Passion Project, with Paperwork

School started a couple weeks ago here. Last Friday, before the holiday weekend, my daughter came home with a bundle of paperwork explaining The Eighth Grade Passion Project.

Each student is to choose something they are passionate about and spend the entire year learning about it.  I love this idea!  It’s like homeschooling, but in school  Encouraging children to pursue their own interests, love learning, form mentoring relationships – this sounds great!

Then I read the opening letter.  Students are to do this year long project on their own time, with a mentor who does not live with them, and prepare an end of the year display and oral presentation about what they learned.

The stack of paperwork?  Weekly and monthly progress reports.  Just like a real job, where for every moment of pursuing your passion, there is an hour of paperwork to document that it was actually work.

Telling the students to locate a mentor and arrange weekly or monthly meetings on their own time?  Another valuable workforce lesson.  Don’t expect the people you work for to help you succeed.  Sure, the school could have prepared a list of community contacts who would like to mentor students in different fields, but why coddle?  If your parents haven’t spend the first thirteen years of your life developing contacts to help you get ahead, it’s never to early to devote yourself to networking for professional contacts.

You don’t have the resources to follow your passion right now?  Can’t find a mentor for what you truly love?  Pick something else.  You need to choose a passion in the next three days, list three possible mentors, and write up a three page plan for the year.

Seriously.

My shy daughter barely talks to adults.  She is also a “special needs student.” Do you know how many adults have the patience to reexplain something a dozen ways while their protege averts her eyes?  It rather reduces the number of possible candidates.

We discussed various ideas for her project and had to eliminate the thing she most wants to improve in – drawing a realistic human – because we do not know anyone who could be a mentor in that area.  A few more subjects were dropped for the same reason.  So much for following your passion.

She settled on photography. She does enjoy taking pictures. We haven’t found a mentor yet, but are hopeful that one of the amateur photographers we know will be able and willing.  Would it be wrong if mentored her under a false name?  (kidding.  kinda.)

She did her best to fill out the first three pages of paperwork explaining why she chose photography and how she plans to study it.  Then she asked if she could stay home from school the day it was due. I told her it wouldn’t help, because they’d still want the paperwork.

It was the first time she’d ever thought about skipping school.

Thank you, Passion Project, for introducing her to the life of a 21st century drone.

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3 thoughts on “Passion Project, with Paperwork

  1. Sigh. I hope you get a mentor for her. Or someone to sign the documents while you mentor her, if you don’t. I wouldn’t hesitate to do that if you can’t find anyone else.

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