Saturday, November 9, 2013

Should school be fun?

I will admit the title of the post is a loaded question.  I'll get to my opinion a little later in the post.

As a kid growing up I had times when I loved school and times I despised it.  I'll never forget a particular moment in eighth grade.  I was in line walking up from the middle school to the library.  The hallway was wide and the floor was carpeted, you could only hear quiet murmurs as we walked up the hall.  I turned the corner and started up the gentle incline.  The windows grabbed my attention, I peered out.  It was beautiful outside.  The sun was shining and I just wanted to get out.  I'll openly admit I felt as though I was in prison.  I wondered, could I crawl out that window and escape? Would they notice if I was missing?  It's not that I hated school, I was bored.

I asked a loaded question in the beginning. This is my opinion on the matter.  

I believe learning should be an enjoyable experience.  

I believe we are life long learners and learning should make us feel good.

I believe an engaged student is a student that will learn.

I believe engagement can create curiosity and joy.

I believe students that enjoy school have a higher probability of success. (All you need to look at for justification is the drop-out rate)

The research says that an engaged student learns twice as much.  Yes, TWICE as much!  Check out the article Study: Engaged Students Learn Twice As Much

As a teacher I spent a large chunk of my evenings and weekends planning lessons and trying to brainstorm ideas that would excite student learning.  I still remember times when I heard students say they were bored.  Outwardly I would say, "It's not my priority to entertain you." But inwardly I was disappointed by the comment.  I was hired to teach and I took that as a huge responsibility, I knew that a bored student learned very little.  Essentially I believe a bored student simply regurgitates information and doesn't truly learn.  

Recently I asked a student the question, "Should school be fun?"  What do you think the student said?

The answer was an emphatic YES!  The older we get the more we understand that school is seven hours of each day, but it's more than that.  It's the main social interaction for students during the day, it's their exercise for the day, it's possibly their best meal(s) and it is definitely the most they will learn for the day.

Ultimately fun is relative; what is fun to one may not be to another.  I do believe we should enjoy what we do.  I once dreaded what I did.  Years ago I went through a funk. I dreaded going in each day and it showed in my planning and delivery.  I was fortunate because I had a friend simply tell me that I had changed.  At first I was angry, but then I realized he was right.  I slowly shifted my attitude and rededicated myself to my students.  I wanted learning to be enjoyable for my students.

I believe this is an attainable goal.  Students spend more time at school than they do at home, shouldn't their experience be a positive one?

This week's big questions:  Are you the teacher you dreamed of being?  Are your students engaged in your lessons?


Monday, November 11th: Conferences
Tuesday, November 12th:  Pioneer Living 3rd Grade
Tuesday, November 12th:  Panther Pride Lunch
Tuesday, November 12th:  Happy Bday Kathy Sharp
Tuesday, November 12th: IEP's in Conference Room
Tuesday, November 12th:  2nd Grade to JCC
Tuesday, November 12th: Conferences
Wednesday, November 13th:  K-2 Assembly
Wednesday, November 13th:  String Team 1:55pm & 3pm
Wednesday, November 13th: TAT 3pm
Thursday, November 14th: Pioneer Living 3rd Grade
Friday, November 15th:  Fire Drill at 9:20am
Friday, November 15th: Picture Retakes
Saturday, November 16th:  Happy Bday to Katie Powers
Sunday, November 17th:  Happy Bday to Chris Kline

*  Book Fair is located in Library all week
*  Please let me know if you would like me to attend a specific conference

Articles Worth Reading:

How To Use Real-Time Technology in the Classroom by @toddacurtis

"Who will survive?" A Beginners Guide To Project Based Learning shared by  @MPNEngaged

A Dozen Basic Guidelines For Educators by @alfiekohn

Mashing Genius Hour With Problem Based Learning +TeachThought @TeachThought

Take a day and visit your school +Tony Sinanis @Cantiague_Lead

Common Core in Action: Writing for an audience shared by +William Powers @MrPowersCMS

How We Can Actually Create Life Long Learners +Fred Sitkins @fsitkins

Overcome 4 Massive Motivation Killers shared by @MPNEngaged

Dragon Dictation App shared by +Vicki Davis  @coolcatteacher

50 Math Web Games for Kids +Matt Gomez @mattBgomez

5 Engaging Activities for Early Finishers +Erin Klein @KleinErin

Boring Teachers and How We ALL Can Respond @grantwiggins

How To Follow On Twitter Without Joining Twitter +Patrick Larkin @patrickmlarkin

Videos Worth Watching:

3 Minute Video explaining the CCSS (Worth your time) @SueVanRiper

Perseverance! Thanks for sharing Dan. +Dan Callahan @dancallahan

Freedom isn't Free: Tribute for our Veterans


  1. This was a great read, Ben. I loved the personal reflection, but I also liked the realization that fun is relative and meeting that need is incredibly difficult. The planning and preparation can only get you so far…the engagement of students often lies in the presentation and comfort level of the room…great points. I didn't have a great school experience until high school and often think of what we are doing for kids like me who wanted to be on a stage that didn't exist in a traditional classroom. The emphasis on student voice and recognition that it is so important is a great thing to share with others. So…yes, the question was loaded…but so are the following: Should we be kind to one another? Should learning be engaging? Are the Packers in real trouble without Aaron Rodgers? To answer the question is easy…to look deeper into the meaning is where the gold is…except for the Rodgers question…that's pretty cut and dry! Again…great post…love the connection.

  2. Thanks for the feedback Joe. I feel compelled to start with Rodgers : )

    I agree the Pack are in trouble, the saving grace may be Eddie years past the back-up QB has been better, but the running game worse. Now it's the exact opposite.

    I appreciate your points on student voice & recognition. The time has come that the teacher is not the only provider of information. I look for a shift, I look for students to inquire, investigate and get involved in their own learning.

    Thanks for your continued support Joe!

  3. In Daniel Pink's DRIVE, he states, "Only engagement can produce mastery." I find that is true in education, in relationships--in life. Thanks for recognizing the importance.

  4. Appreciate the feedback David. I'm in the midst of "Drive" and I completely agree that engagement is vital.

    Thanks for the support and for sharing.

  5. I hope to come back for more, please see my occasional blog on fun math here
    Keep having fun!