Monday, November 21, 2011

Should Education be Enjoyable?

In her insightful book, Intellectual Emergencies: Some Reflections on Mothering and Teaching Lilian Katz observes....
"The goal of education is not enjoyment; that is the goal of entertainment.... The goal of education is to engage the minds of the learners so that their understandings of significant phenomena and events become deeper, clearer, and more accurate. When we succeed at engaging their minds in such things, they find it enjoyable. But, though enjoyment cannot be our main goal, it can be a by-product of good teaching."

I'm not at all certain that I can support this particular point of view. Although I must say that I have not had the opportunity to read the book so I cannot say for certain what the context of the quote might be.
However I think it is worth addressing because many of the educators that I have worked with, think this way. It is in our most enjoyable moments that we build memories, observe new things, feel inspired to create, become motivated.  If a child is not drawn to an enjoyable task then how will he stay focused or even want to engage?
A life lived in its fullest measure is one that is basked in seeking and doing that which we love and enjoy most. Take your career for example. Those who work with passion are content and find deep fulfillment. Those who do mundane task simply for survival find little pleasure.
So to then is it with the child's work. As educators we must be challenged to impart and share knowledge with children in engaging, entertaining and enlightening ways so that the children grow as a learners and constructors of knowledge. If a child is presented with a worksheet that instructs him to color in a hundred objects, will he find that engaging and then enjoyable? Would it not be better then to offer the child 10 jars and ask him to fill each jar with 10 jelly beans to make 10 sets of 10. Then of course he could enjoy one jar of treats when he has completed his task. I'm certain (if the child is cognitively ready ) the next time those jars come out he will be the first to the task.
So yes let's find wonderful ways to make learning enjoyable. That is the right of all human beings!


  1. I agree with you. It is as children are deeply engaged in meaningful contexts, enjoying the process that they are enjoying learning - this is the best medium for them to learn, through play and having fun. Too often schools beat the fun of learning out of our children and school goes from being a place to look forward to going to, to a complete and utter drag. As teachers have fun with their students and make learning fun, it will have greater impact and should lead to students developing that love of learning that will continue with them for the rest of their lives.

  2. Enjoyment may not be the main goal, but too often in the quest to help children find deeper and clearer understanding of phenomena, we push our own agenda, what we think the children should learn. Consequently the "joy" goes out of exploring and learning. And joy is the best fuel or motivation for learning.