My daughter Kari and I were having lunch at a great Mexican Restaurant in Lexington the other day. We were catching up with each other because we hadn't seen each other in over a week. Kari just started a MIT [Masters in Teaching] degree last week. It is an on-line degree and her first class was over and she was preparing for the next.
She said they were going to be discussing making learning fun. They were discussing how to make learning games, keep kids engaged and interested--how to make learning more entertaining. We could both see the sense in keeping students engaged, but she said that people want the teachers to do all the work and the kids to be entertained. Students are not really expected to work hard at dull things to learn and improve themselves [remember memorizing geometry terms and figuring out proofs]--they want quick paced lessons, with multi-media and engaging activities.
If you don't believe it, go into any mega-church and try to find a sit down and listen service. There are lights and projectors and skits and productions. I am not saying it is all bad, but most people today don't want to think and focus--they want the basic gist of what they need to know in bullet points.
For that matter, go into any sports bar and notice the TV screens. Oh my! We went to one last week with about 10 giant screens and each one had a different sports channel and every screen had people talking, clips of sporting event and the printed latest news going across the bottom. I felt like I had some kind of disorder because I couldn't keep up.
Kids need to learn that everything is not fun. I don't want to be a downer, but if the teachers have to make learning so upbeat and fun and interesting or else the kids will be bored, how in the world are they going to be able to stand an 8-10 hour job? How will they be able to focus on menial tasks and boring jobs? When will they have to face up to the fact that somethings are not fun-they just aren't.
I have a good friend who would tell her kids when they complained about having to do something hard, like math or writing a term paper, "It might not be fun, but it has to be done." It is called discipline. It is called character building. It is called education--and I believe nothing can benefit our kids more than learning that not everything is fun and that the student should have to exert more energy --or at least as much energy--as the teacher.