Education can’t always be fun

If there’s one thing that teachers hate to hear, it’s: “I’m bored.” That’s because teachers have been indoctrinated with the belief that learning must always be fun.  If it isn’t, then they must be doing something wrong (“Let Children Get Bored Again,” The New York Times, Feb. 3).

But I submit that learning in the classroom is not that much different from learning in the workplace.  Boredom is an inescapable part of both.  The role of teachers is not to entertain but to educate.  If that sometimes involves boredom, so be it.  Yet teachers are often given poor evaluations if students complain that they are bored.

Some of the most valuable education I received in high school and college required sheer memorization.  Today, memorization is frowned on because it doesn’t develop critical thinking.  But I reject that assertion.  Without certain facts, which require memorization, how can students develop critical thinking skills?  Is memorization boring?  It depends on how it is presented.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

6 Replies to “Education can’t always be fun”

  1. Probably obvious, but today’s students live in a much more exciting personal world than students from decades past.

    In the 1950s, students were entertained by black-and-white TV shows that were, by today’s standards, pretty boring.

    In the 1960s, the TV shows were in often in color, but they were still relatively boring compared to today’s shows.

    In the 1970s, being able to play Pong on a game monitor was breath-taking excitement.

    It wasn’t until the 1980s that students had regular at-home access to current movies — via VCRs.

    During the 1990s and since then, the computer age has given students routine access to pretty much any kind of entertainment they want to see — including “adult” material as well as video games, TV shows and movies with much higher production values than anything available to even the most affluent consumers back in the 1960s.

    When students today complain that they are “bored”, they are implicitly comparing that day’s lessons to the exciting entertainment they see every afternoon and evening on their home TVs, computers and iPhones — a much higher standard than what teachers were judged by back in the day.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: Teachers today cannot possibly compete with digital products. The problem for students will be when they enter the workplace and find that work assignments also pale compared to what is readily available when outside the classroom.

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  3. STUDENTS CAN ALWAYS BE ENGAGED IN EDUCATION
    FUN? FUN? Are you kidding me? Fun at recess.
    Having students engaged in their classes is the key. Use the modern technology with your students.
    There are many teachers integrating today’s technology into their classes.
    Other teachers need the proper P.D.
    If teachers make their classes interesting and integrate technology, students will have “FUN”.

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  4. mathcoach2: Modern technology is a powerful tool to engage students, but it is not a panacea. Learning anything important will always involve discipline that no technology can provide.

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  5. As a former math teacher, I disagree that “learning anything important will always involve discipline that no technology can provide”.
    The teaching of mathematics has changed dramatically in the last 20 years.
    Shame on teachers who do not use the modern technology for activities and investigations.
    It can be done.

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