Assembly point - Time for blast off

29th May 2009 at 01:00
Inspire pupils to follow their passions, whether it's their favourite subject or a burning ambition to be an astronaut

Tiger Woods was teased for having it, Eileen Collins, the NASA astronaut, was driven by it from the age of nine, and it was the desire to do good rather than success itself that drove Oprah Winfrey, the TV chat- show host. She once said: "Success wasn't the goal. The process was."

What these three people have in common is a passion. Despite being made fun of for playing a "wussy sport", Tiger Woods stuck to his passion for golf and Eileen decided as a child that it was obvious the human race needed to know more about space.

Many pupils will have made choices about their subjects for next year. As well as thinking of a future career, they should be thinking: "What am I happiest doing?"

Why choose to follow a path towards something you feel passionately about? It's because whether the goal is success, to make a lot of money or receive great recognition, all these things become insignificant beside the pleasure of doing something you love.

Once pupils have decided on their passion, how can they ensure they are moving in the right direction towards it? One way is to set a long-term goal and then decide which different paths and smaller targets can get them to the point where they are living their dream.

Emphasise to pupils that this isn't necessarily about gaining material things, more about experiences. So does your passion have to be your career? Not necessarily, but a job may enable you to obtain the resources needed to follow a dream.

Ask pupils what they can do to find their passion. They could:

- Ask people about what they love doing.

- Try different avenues and experiences.

- Look for clues in the subjects that never fail to grab their attention.

- Ask themselves for whom and for what it would it be worth turning off the TV?

Point out that sometimes the choices made are difficult to follow. It might involve breaking with tradition or disappointing others. But they have to ask themselves: whose life are they leading?

A test of passion is whether it's strong enough to resist all those who mock or dismiss it out of hand. But as long as pupils are not trespassing on other people's lives, their life is theirs to lead.

If they are passionate about what they do, they will have the determination, concentration and application to succeed. The paths they tread to follow their passion could be tough or they could be plain sailing, but the journey will be worth it.

If something doesn't work or a particular route is not right, maybe something else will come along to drive them forward. There may not just be one goal but many. It doesn't matter, adapt, move on and choose a different path.

Finish the assembly by reading The Road Not Taken, one of Robert Frost's most famous poems, which includes the lines: "Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less travelled by."

Sometimes the unexpected route turns out to be the best.

Jasmine Renold is head of ICT at Withington Girls' School in Manchester.

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