Saturday, April 7, 2018

Is Learning Fun? Should Learning be Fun?

Let me start off by saying this has been a L O N G week! I'm going to veer off my typically blog style today. My blogs are always inspired from something ... this week my inspiration came from two very different places but dealt with the same mindset.

The 1st was a very unexpected TwitterChat early Easter Sunday morning. I saw this Tweet by Mark Barnes (@markbarnes19).

This question caught my eye on the TwitterChat for #HackLearning. The idea of making learning fun intrigues me. 

It's not a bad idea, right? Learning CAN be fun! But ... is it always fun? Should it always be fun? What if it's NOT fun? Do we not do it? Do we want our students to shy away from learning if it's NOT fun, even if we know down the road it very well could lead to fun?

I'll come back to this ... I said I had two sources of inspiration.

The other inspiration came from my oldest daughter. She enjoys playing basketball so my husband found a skills camp on Monday nights for her. He had to work late this week, so I found myself driving her there. Challenge? Getting her actually IN the car to GO! I was shocked at her adamant refusal to going. She angrily told me it was "not fun" and "too hard" and she wasn't going. (I was shocked because she had gone the week before and had NOT expressed this emotion.

Let's discuss Mark's Tweet a little more.

As teachers, do we strive to make learning fun everyday? As parents, should we have our kids do just what is fun and easy? I'll be honest ... I have a hard time separating my teacher brain from my mom brain and vice versa. 

Mark responded:

I 100% see his point. I happen to love my job, too! BUT ... I also know that my job isn't always easy and if I chose to not do the pieces that I find, well, not fun, I highly doubt I'd still be employed. So I responded, "I didn't mean you can't love it ... I love my work too, but sometimes it's just plain HARD --- there is JOY in accomplishing something HARD."

When I think back to my own teachers, I do remember the "fun" ones. And usually, I remember their class as "easy". BUT ... I treasure the teachers who challenged me. The teachers who pushed me but encouraged me at the same time. 

I don't often look back say, "Man! I'm so glad I had fun in Mr. So-and-so's class." On the other hand, I DO look back and say, "Thank you, Mrs. Price for allowing us to take control of our math class and push ourselves at our own pace." "Thank you, Mr. Sisson for bringing history to life and letting us recreate things like the court case from the Boston Massacre." "Thank you, Mr. Hemmert, for letting me pick the topic and presentation for my senior English essay." All of these were hard, but I learned so much. None of them were easy - but I can also say, in the end, they were fun. Fun because I was invested and fun because the teachers made the activity worthwhile. But NOT fun at the beginning.

How about my daughter?

Yes, it's sports. Yes, it's extra. No, she truly doesn't HAVE to do it. However ... she did agree to this skills camp. I am the kind of mom who wants the best for her girls (who doesn't?). I want my girls to push themselves to be the best version of themselves they can be. I also know that sometimes in life, things are TOUGH. So when I hear them or see them shying away from something because of the challenge, I know that sometimes, I have to believe in them FOR them and be their support until they can do it on their own. I also know there is plenty in life that isn't fun, but must be done --- grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, etc? Where would I be if my husband & I didn't do these because we don't find them fun? 

Let's put these two pieces together. 

I have always strived to be the teacher who wants the best for my students. I want to be their champion, their challenger, their supporter, their advisor, their guide, their ... whatever. Just as I want to do that for my students, I want to do that for my daughters. I appreciate all Mark does and I know he's got the right idea. His question just really got me thinking about learning & fun. Learning can be fun. Learning should be fun. 


Learning isn't always and we can't always make it fun. And we shouldn't encourage our students to think it always is. I was honest with my students when we attempted something I knew was tough. I still do. I pump them up. I remind them that we are up for the challenge. I remind them we are ready and we can do it. But I am honest with them. And if we fail, I'm right there to support them in getting it back together.

And, I do the same with my daughters. My oldest was helping me put together her new bed, and it was hard! The pieces didn't go together smoothly. We had to work at it. She did NOT find it fun, but the end result is a bed she really likes! My youngest was learning to read this year, and it took time and practice and patience. She didn't get it right away. She was frustrated, but now that she's put in that work and she CAN read, MAN! Does she enjoy it!

So - here's what I believe. Learning can be fun. Learning can be hard. Learning can be a process that takes hard work. Please make sure you have your students working hard just as much as they are having fun.
Brainy Quotes                     KZEE Quotes

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