Sunday, May 27, 2012

Teaching is The #1 Fun Career?

I am sitting on my porch and trying to do some fine edits on my first 2 chapters of my dissertation proposal and start my third chapter.  Naturally, I am doing anything but that!  I was looking at my twitter feed (@vpigreenie) and saw this post from @iEducator about five careers that let you have fun on the job, of which teacher is the number one career for having fun.  As the article puts it:
"Fun factors: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, teachers often "use games, music, artwork, films, books, computers, and other tools to teach basic skills." And because teachers are constantly around kids, it's more natural to be light-hearted than it might be in a workplace full of adults".
Looking back on my 17 years in the classroom, I would agree that I definitely did have a lot of fun.  I was one of those teachers that used games, let my students work together and talk in class as we learned, and used the computers as much as possible. However - especially as standardized testing became more and more a focal point for all things, the fun was harder and harder to come by. Not because I didn't keep trying to do those things, but because I was forced to abide by the constant testing and assessment rules, leaving less time for innovation and fun in learning and teaching.  Teaching became less fun and more of  a chore, for both the students and me.  And this I fear is the situation today - teaching is no longer fun, and learning is no longer fun, because there is so much pressure and judgement, based on standardized testing, that teachers are afraid to let their classrooms be fun.  (Can't tell you how many times I have heard "we don't have time to do the fun things".)

My question - since when did having fun in teaching mean students weren't learning?

We need to get out of this horrible pattern of drill-and-kill learning, where learning is brought down to a bunch of memorized skills and procedures in order to perform well on assessments. It is possible to create learning environments where in fact, it is fun to teach, fun to learn, and everyone still does well on assessments.

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