Fun & Learning Are Not Mutually Exclusive
Hi everyone, it’s me, Franky, the Camp WeHaKee dog! It seems in our world that there is a continuum with learning on one end and fun on the other – either or so to speak. Even more disturbing to me is that time spent having fun is often viewed as frivolous or less valuable than time spent in serious learning. That is so counterproductive to consider fun and learning as mutually exclusive – together they form one of the most powerful bonds for children (and adults for that matter!) to grow.
“Faith without works is dead” is often mistakenly attributed to St. Benedict. Regardless of it’s origin, this statement suggests that when either one of these is absent from the other, the end result is ineffective. In a twist on this statement, I would suggest the ‘Learning without Fun is Pointless’.
Successful teachers understand and embrace the concept of infusing fun into the learning environment. But the push for accountability through student testing has stripped them of many of the opportunities to make learning fun. Laura Eberhart Goodman, a former classroom teacher and mother of school aged children, shared her thoughts on the absence of fun in the school day in the Washington Post – Mom: What do I expect from my children’s elementary school? Certainly not this. (Washington Post, Jan. 5, 2016).
“I care more about whether or not they love going to school than I do about their academic progress. I am clever enough to know that if they are enjoying themselves at school, they will learn.” (Laura Eberhart Goodman)
Play has been a common theme throughout my weekly posts because it has been shown repeatedly (and through significant research) how powerful and important play is for the growth and development of our children. But of late, we have been diminishing the amount of play from the school curriculum with the intent of pushing our kids to higher academic goals. We are missing the critical correlation between play and learning… and it isn’t making our kids any brighter. It’s stressing them out!
Learning is a natural and fundamental product of play. When an individual plays, they are engaging their creative and critical thinking processes in a natural and unforced manner. They can’t help but learn as they go! And when anyone plays (children or adults), they can’t help but have fun!
“From an educator’s perspective, an environment that is engaging, hands-on, with opportunities for meaningful learning, practice, discussions and creativity, makes kids happy. When kids are happy, they learn more…” (Laura Eberhart Goodman)
Camp has always embraced the fusion of fun and learning, long before recognizing or understanding the natural partnership between the two. Observe any activity at a camp such as WeHaKee Camp for Girls and you will see laughing, cheering, enthusiasm and contentment. Even when the efforts don’t always end in success, campers are having fun finding out how not to do things and thus learning new approaches to eventual achievement.
No, fun and learning are not mutually exclusive. When mixed together they form an explosive reaction of learning and achievement every time. As I have said before, schools could learn a lot from camp! Have a great weekend everyone!