Monday, December 13, 2010

Educators first, entertainers second.

"If students are having fun then they will learn more."  This was a comment I heard and decided to look more into this idea.  Most people understand the meaning of the words "engagement", "entertainment", and "meaning", but do people understand that engagement and meaning does not imply entertainment?

When I look back to a couple of years ago, I would start my class with a funny YouTube video or a funny website.  I believed that these videos and sites convinced students that what I was about to teach was worth learning.  Unfortunatly, I was being decieved by this notion.

Students want and need to have fun, however not at the expense of learning.  I believe true student engagement can be fun, but it doesn't have to be.  Recently, I have asked some of my students which of the two enviornments would they prefer:

Option 1: A class where you laugh and joke, watch funny videos, but do not understand the concepts being presented

Option 2: A class that is very structured where no jokes are allowed, but you can completely apply the knowledge and concepts you have learned.

Most either said option 2 or a mix between the two classes.  Not one student picked option 1.  As educators we need to realize we are not doing our students or ourselves a favour by showing non-relevant material in class.  The question then is “How do we engage students on learning and allow them to also have fun?”  The answer is simple; create activities that relate to the outcomes not to entertainment. 

To introduce non-permissible values in math, I showed an example on how 1 could equal 2.  I then asked the students to find the mistake.

The mistake is at one step you have to divide by 0 which is breaking the law in the world of math.  Was this task as fun as showing a video where a kid runs into a stop sign? Absolutely not, however this task was more meaningful to the students.  As teachers, we are not entertainers but educators, and sometimes we need to be reminded of this.

1 comment:

  1. The question I alwasy ask myself when wanting to show a video or fun website is how can I tie it in to the curriculum outcome that I want the kids to understand. So yeah they may not be the "talking cat" video from youtube(which is v. funny) but the videos relate back to my curriculum in some way. Maybe it's a review and introduction or a converstation started to get the students thinking but it happens in the classroom and then I know the kids grasp the concept.