in response to fun

“Remember that it’s as vital for the teacher (you) to have fun too!!”

The writer of this comment was suggesting websites for board games and activities to help a stressed-out and over-worked teacher (apologies for the redundancy) during her teaching practicum.

I don’t know if my reaction would have been the same before reading @michaelegriffin ‘s interesting and non-curmudgeony post on the value of “fun” in the classroom (Read it here: “T’s just wanna have fun“). As a “fun” teacher, I take issue with banning certain activities because they are fun. However, as a balanced individual (no comments, please), I completely agree with Mr. Griffin’s assessment that we need to have objectives and purposes for our tasks. Maybe sometimes the purpose is to have fun. Maybe it’s to learn something. Maybe it’s to review or practice. There’s nothing wrong with choosing an activity that’s fun to meet those objectives.

Why, then, do I take issue with the innocent comment above? Am I going to out-curmudgeon Mike and say that teaching is a very serious profession and teachers should NEVER have fun? I’d be a hypocrite. I have fun in class every day. Teaching is fun. But is it really “vital” for the teacher to have fun during an activity that is designed to improve motivation and keep students focused on target language? Why? If a teacher is worrying about how much fun she is having, is she paying attention to her students’ learning? It seems to me then that the focus is off the students and I think – I feel strongly – that the focus should be always on the students.

On the other hand,  younger students especially notice if their teacher is bored or uninvolved. Sometimes they reflect the teacher’s attitude. I wonder if this is what she meant? Or whether it is relevant to the issue at all?

Sorry to my PLN, I don’t really have a coherent contribution to the “fun” debate – just a new question: are teachers allowed to have fun?

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  • mikecorea  On December 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Hello friend,

    Great post… great questions! Lots to think about. Sorry for the delay in responding to this. (Also please note that I am not expecting a response at this late dates) Like many other things on your blog I have been thinking about it for a while. 🙂 Ohh the google docs and emails that we will share someday.

    You ask, “are teachers allowed to have fun?” I sure hope so. I am with you in thinking “teaching is fun.” So for me, I think that teachers *should be allowed to have fun in class.

    As I dive deeper into this…I don’t think that the teacher’s fun should be the main focus or the critical factor in determining how class should proceed. That would be too far, right? The students’ learning (aided by fun or not) would hopefully be the main criteria for such decisions in my view.

    I do think that there is something about, the teacher having fun. I think it spreads. Even though I lack any real evidence, I feel that my stronger/better (whatever that means!) lessons are when I have a bit of fun. It is not my main concern but I do think it is helpful to keep motivation going.

    That said, I also think that some of my best lessons are when I am a bit bored…hahah because students are working and I am off to the side noting things and helping as needed. Not super “fun” but worth it in my eyes.

    In conclusion, I contradict myself.

    Actually to return to the quote that you started with, ““Remember that it’s as vital for the teacher (you) to have fun too!!” I am not so sure about that one. Perhaps we are thinking about it more than the original author intended!

    In terms of banning activities simply because they are “fun” well, this is not something that I can really get behind. I think that banning hangman came for a reason as it is often (seen as) the refuge of lazy teachers. I guess that was a simple solution for what is (increasingly!) a complicated question.

    I’ll stop here before I contradict my contradictions.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here!
    (and thanks for reading this random collection of thoughts)



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