For many years I have wondered why we educators have not made sure that learning at school is fun.
School goals and purpose all to often seem to be too grandiose and defined in educational terminology – “students achieving their potential” “transformational approaches”, achieving above the national standard”.
What would we do differently in school if the school plan was for “learning to be fun”?
Starting with teachers learning it is not hard to think of “in-service learning that has been dead boring and irrelevant” or staff meetings that were of little value. However what happens when teachers are able to pursue their educational passion and lead their own learning? Teachers usually love learning but all too often face time squeezes that restrict their time for self and reflection is almost non-existent during the school term. Time-tables drive schools and teachers long with pre-defined purpose and action to meet the goals of this years plan. Time to explore the by-ways of learning is not seen as very useful. In the early years of principals having computers on their desks there were a significant number in New Zealand who were reluctant to use them during the school day as this was seen as a wasteful use of time – distractions from the real business of driving the school.In fact some saw it as enjoyable and opening up of possibilities! Save computer time till after school when others would not see you in action!
This reference to Benjamin Franklin opens up an interesting thought about teachers having fun learning. Why Constant Learners All Embrace the Five Hour Rule (Michael Simmons co-founder of Empact) – thank you Michael for sharing this.
“Franklin’s learning time consisted of:
- Waking up early to read and write
- Setting personal-growth goals (i.e., virtues list) and tracking the results
- Creating a club for “like-minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community”
- Turning his ideas into experiments
- Having morning and evening reflection questions
Every time that Franklin took time out of his busy day to follow his five-hour rule and spend at least an hour learning, he accomplished less on that day. However, in the long run, it was arguably the best investment of his time he could have made.”
Although this seems a disciplined approach to learning its open ended path offers great chances for fun and diversity of learning. I particularly like the experiments and reflection – he must have been one of the great questioners.
I wonder how many teachers have the freedom to do a Benjamin Franklin and have fun pursuing their educational passion then sharing that with other educators – the investment of one hour a day for each week day sounds a big investment and a potential loss of time for teacher business.
However what happens if the hour is a directly tied to aspects of education and achievement and is therefore embedded in the school day and could in fact be shared in a “Franklin” type club where the like-minded artisans are students or teachers who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community. What say these “artisans” asked questions that seemed to have no easy answers? In other words the bold ones – the ones New Zealanders should have been grappling with for decades;
- How can we tap into and use the genetic coding that brought all of us to Aotearoa? (During the past 1500 years New Zealand (Aotearoa) has been populated by those who dared to travel thousands of kilometres to get here be they Maori, Pasifika, European, Asian and many others. I feel certain this boldness, creativity and independence is somehow encoded in our genetics. No other nation’s peoples have collectively travelled so far.
- How can compulsory schooling become fun filled achievement for everyone?
- How can we build on the creativity and adaptability of our multi-cultural nation?
What if the 70,000 educators in New Zealand applied even TWO hours a week on aspects related to questions like these? 140,000 hours a week must have possibilities.
The Franklin type club offers the chance to interact with other learners across all ages in the school community – I’ll return to this in my next reflection.