Saturday, September 08, 2007

Making Learning Fun!!

I'm trying to figure out when this society decided that anything that's not "fun" isn't worth doing? Because that's what I keep hearing regarding our educational system. All the armchair experts insist that we must "make learning fun!" They maintain that we can't rationally expect our children to do something that they have no interest in doing. It makes me wonder how things work in their houses, with their own kids. How do they make their offspring clean their rooms? How do they make doing chores "fun"? What's the most entertaining way to make the little ones do as they are told? I'd really like to know. I believe it would come in handy.

We are constantly deluged with the message that our educational system is not living up to the standards set by the rest of the civilized world. Our students don't read or write nearly as well as they should. They don't seem to have the basic academic skills that would provide them with the opportunity to succeed in the modern world of work. But it's not just our schools that display this fundamental lacking. Our workforce is indulged and prone to slacking off. People don't have the basic knowledge to perform elementary tasks. No one reads anymore unless they are forced to. They take no pride in their occupation. They flutter aimlessly from one meaningless job to another. They're attention spans are woefully short.

Yet our "experts" presume to offer a simple solution- "Make learning fun!" They point out that individuals have different "learning styles". Teachers are reminded of this "fact" by academics, administrators, parents, and students themselves. The boy (or girl) in the classroom is likely to explain that reading is not their preferred learning style. This is also the excuse that they bring home to their parents when their grades are inadequate. Subsequently the parents use the same argument to excuse the behavior of their kids. In their righteous and indignant tones they ask, "Why are you using the text as the primary teaching tool?" They offer "creativity" as the alternative. Where are the movies, games and parties that truly engage children? Just try to adjust to their conception of what teaching entails- later on they'll look at the media reports of failing district test scores, and wonder where the education went.

The reality of life is that there is much drudgery in it. Throughout your time on this planet, you will be asked to do things you don't want to do. The next time your employer asks why that report is not on his desk, or why the burgers you served up to the customer were undercooked... simply reply that your job isn't "fun" enough. It doesn't engage you. You'd rather be watching FOX television, or playing X-Box. What do you think his reaction is likely to be? Or what happens the next time your children want to be fed? Will they understand your disinterest in healthy cooking? Perhaps they will quit their whining and look for a way to make it all the more amusing for you.

Our future citizens might as well realize now that they don't have to "like" everything they are told to do. When a teacher assigns a reading or writing task, they shouldn't assume that it's going to be "fun". These are crucial developmental skills that they need to learn and practice. Teachers realize that they'd rather be doing something else. They don't need to be reminded of human nature. After all they themselves are working to add value to society. Don't encourage your children to believe that life will conform to their own self-indulgence. Instead of suggesting that teachers do things differently, support them in their efforts to give your children discipline, structure and character. Public educators have expertise and years of study to rely on when they go about their business. If you think you can do a better job... try home schooling for awhile. I'm sure you'd rather be at home than at work. That's more "fun"!

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