What’s fun for you may not be fun for me – Why I don’t plan ‘fun’ lessons

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“Miss is this going to be a fun lesson?”

Students have asked me this throughout my career. My theory is that they only ask it when they’ve come from a lesson where they have felt it was fun and usually where they did no ‘work’. I may be wrong. Next time I’m going to ask them what they just did the lesson before. It’s never asked period 1 unless it’s the last week of term.

However my response to them is “My fun and your fun are probably two different things”. Being an RE teacher I want them to a)understand that there are different views of what is fun and b) I don’t deliberately plan ‘fun’ lessons. Fun may be a product of the lesson but not the purpose.

Some of you are probably thinking, ‘what a grump!’. Whilst I am a grump I think as teachers we should have it clear what our aims are. We are not entertainers we are teachers. There are plenty of times when students AND I have a laugh. Sometimes several minutes of hysteria when someone says a classic like “Miss, is Africa in Europe?” and “Miss, I’m impotent!” (We were discussing the omnipotence of God).

So fun isn’t avoided or stopped but it certainly isn’t planned for. 

Sometimes people conflate ‘fun’ with ‘engaging’. I think I do plan lessons that I students can access content and engage with it. This comes from my knowledge and experience of children and how their brains process new material. I like to believe that I know what interests them and how I may ‘hook’ them in. However the value of the ‘hook’ must outweigh the use of time; it shouldn’t take more time to use the hook than the potential learning value of it. 

I also suspect that in many cases when they use the word ‘fun’ they mean ‘no work’. That in itself is interesting. They often mean no writing or not using books. This is why I worry when people use writing as a punishment. Is it reinforcing negtivity around written work? I digress…

So overall if you come to my lessons, you will sometimes hear laughter, some times students say ‘that was a fun’ lesson but essentially my job is to ensure that they’re learning. They can plan their fun in their own time.

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7 thoughts on “What’s fun for you may not be fun for me – Why I don’t plan ‘fun’ lessons

  1. So agree. Students see right through teachers that are ‘trying’ to entertain rather than teach. In my experience they value excellent teaching from the planners, eccentrics, jokers, philosophical, media-techies, modernists and traditional. The commonality is excellent teaching… In its diverse forms! Certainly need to fight robotic template teaching… whether labelled ‘fun’ or not!

  2. I completely agree – and it is so true anyway that everyone’s idea of fun is different!! If you go into any ‘fun’ lesson there will be students who are not as engaged as you can’t force them to enjoy a particular way of learning something. Also plenty of lessons I thought might be deemed boring have been hugely enjoyable for children and ‘fun’ ones that were disastrous – so like you I stopped bothering in my first year. Instead focusing on the learning and coming up with activities that are suitable is the only way to teach. As I said to the Governors – the rigour and standards are paramount and it is then the challenge of the teacher to make the learning exciting. Which in my opinion can be in many different ways including those ways that are deemed boring by some.

  3. Extremely interesting read for me as a trainee teacher. I also very much agree. As a newbie I sometimes have to stop myself wanting pupils to ‘like’ me. Of course having a good relationship with your students is important, but we cannot let it overshadow the aim of the game! As much as I would like to be thought of as fun, I would certainly much rather become the teacher who engages pupils, and gets excellent results from them. Sometimes the two don’t go together. All the best, Katie x

    http://www.beingmiss.co.uk

  4. Very valid views and I totally agree. Of course we build relationships and we can tease and joke a little (obviously without worrying about the ‘no smiles until Christmas’ mantra). We are there to provide students the security of a classroom where they are accomplishing. No ‘fun lesson’ beats that feeling, for them and us.

  5. Pingback: Learning; it isn’t about fun. | missdcoxblog

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