My Favorite F-Word... Fun!

One of my favorite talks to give is called "Fun, Feeling, and Freedom." To get the audience engaged immediately, I share the title of the talk and then reference those three wonderful words as my favorite f-words. That always gets a smirk, smile, or a laugh from many in the room.

By referencing f-words…my intention is to get across that this is not your typical pedantic discussion about the sorry state of education…this is about f-words. So let's go!

My next step is to get the audience interacting with me right away. So, I ask them to pull out their phones and text in their response to the question: What's fun to do? I usually get a range of great answers from knitting to playing sports…to listening to music to reading. As a group, we review all the answers and begin to understand what people in the room think is fun. Every time, I always make the same observation.

No one mentions school as something fun to do.

Why isn't school considered fun? You may have a handful of responses to this question such as it's boring listening to teachers lecture, the subjects are not relevant to my life, it's too competitive and too stressful…the list goes on. But, from where I stand, as someone who studies engagement and has seen the benefits of making learning fun…I am genuinely curious as to why school isn't fun.

To me, fun feels like the perfect solution to many of our most pressing educational issues. Over time, students become more and more disengaged with school. Some even drop out. If we want young people to stay engaged with school, why not make it fun? I yearn for the day when I will ask my kids how their day was at school and they will say, "it was fun!" If school is fun, students will want to go back for more.

Ok, I hear what you are thinking…School is for learning and if you are having fun, then you are not learning. Yes, that is the prevailing misconception in our society. Most people believe that fun (or play) is a break from learning--you cannot be having fun and learning at the same time. Allow me to correct that misconception. People in good moods are better at solving problems because being in a good mood alters your brain activity and enhances insight. So let's encourage fun at school…it will help our students rev up their brains for learning!

I am a big believer in fun and learning. In fact, I would argue - if you are not having fun, you are not truly learning. But I've been around schools, teachers, and administrators often enough to know that the concept of having fun at school does not resonate. In fact, when I tell educators that students will have fun during an activity, I get strange looks. Very, very strange looks. It's almost like I said an f-word. Oh wait. Fun is an f-word…one of my favorite f-words. Hopefully, it can become one of yours too and we can stop treating it like one.

Want to treat your audience to an engaging presentation about fun, feeling, and freedom? You can find more information here.