Fun as serious business

The elementary school teacher who calls for more fun in the classroom in a post on today’s Gotham Schools community blog is talking about serious business–math, reading, science, and history. When children are totally absorbed in their time outside schools–straining to reach the next rung on the jungle gym, or caught up in imaginative play–they may not have happy smiles on their faces, C. W. Arp notices, but they certainly report that they’ve been having fun. More fun than in the classroom, he says:

So here is my radical new way of thinking: The children in my elementary school need to be taught how to have fun. They have not had enough experience with fun. They are too often discouraged from having fun, or even chastised for having fun. I once said to a particularly active student, in my first year, “Do you just come to school to have fun? School is not a playground!” Frequent admonishments at my school: “You play too much,” or “All he/she does is play around.” But the students’ lack of focus is precisely because they are not having fun. Fun is engagement. Fun is interested activity. Fun is very serious business.

I’ll be watching for the suggestions Arp promises to make in future posts about how to help younger students find that sense of absorbed satisfaction as they master classroom learning. Send in yours, too!

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