Eighth graders at Rugby High School will have a chance to show off their passions.
A symposium will be held Thursday, May 19 from 2 to 3 p.m. in which all 42 students in junior high English instructor Kyle Vareberg’s eighth grade class will speak with community members, teachers and seniors about what students are passionate about. The event will take place in the Charles Hanneman Gymnasium and is open to the public.
According to Vareberg, the event is the first of its kind and is akin to a science fair. Vareberg said the idea came last summer, when he did a rhetorical analysis on a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson titled, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” The talk addressed the need for students to discover what they enjoy.
“I guess, for me, the idea just stuck, and ever since it has been something I’ve been kicking around in my head,” Vareberg said. “I agree with Sir Robinson; kids are too often told that they need to stop talking about their passion in exchange for some content they really do not feel is valuable.”
Vareberg said he took the project about passion and put it in place of two assignments.
“So far it’s worked,” Vareberg said. “The kids are passionate about their learning because they are passionate about their topics.”
Vareberg said that even though the students’ projects won’t be graded, the motivation is still there.
“They are working for that ‘Best in Show’ award because that is the very best project that day,” Vareberg said. “It is fun to see the kids setting their own goals and deciding what they want to accomplish.
“I have never had so many kids groan and moan when my class is over because they want to keep working on the project. I have other students who have entered panic mode because they want it to be good.”
Vareberg also said the project also gives students practice in another area.
I am getting their Public Speaking in and for many, they are unaware that they will be doing it,” Vareberg said. “They just want to talk about Turbochargers. Or Tanks. Or Football. Or Paintball. Or Horses. They have passions – it’s about time I recognize that and, instead of fighting against it, welcome it. I want kids to have passion in something and this may have been the first step in that direction.”
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