Some of my favourite moments from this fall have been the simplest things – students’ smiles and high fives, beautiful voices singing together, or running around outside in the beautiful weather.

It’s really hard to single out a particular moment. But there is one conversation I had with a student this fall that means a lot to me. I wrote the following on the day it happened:

I had a student admit to me today that she spent all of grade three dreading having to take French in grade four. She elaborated to explain that she had the impression that it would be too hard and that she wouldn’t like it. Her face then lit up and she said, “But you know what, Ms. Armstrong, now I love French. It’s easy and I have fun.”

Some may hear the words “fun” & “easy” and automatically think that means the opposite of learning. Fun & easy are not the opposite of learning. I can tell you one thing for sure, this student has learned a LOT already this year. And their motivation and love for the subject? That means I’ve “got” them & they’re going to learn a whole lot more.

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Categories: FrenchGeneral


Amit Mehrotra · November 17, 2015 at 8:41 pm

This is amazing. I completely agree that having fun and learning go hand in hand. Having fun will lead to passion, and this passion will lead to a deeper understanding of subjects that no longer rely on rote memorization. Good for you.

Melanie Mulcaster · November 17, 2015 at 8:43 pm

I once heard a quote…”If we reverse our assumptions about how students learn – learning possibilities explode”. Fun is the BEST way to learn because students are able to make meaningful connections that stick!

Mr. Fletcher · November 17, 2015 at 8:43 pm

I completely agree that “fun” and “easy” are not the opposite of learning. If all they were doing was fooling around (often mistaken for fun and easy) the kids wouldn’t see what they were doing as fun – they’d be bored with it.

    tinazita · November 17, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    I think we see it when they are gaming as well. A lot of their games require overcoming tough challenges but they love it. Such a great story Erica!

Heather L · November 17, 2015 at 9:18 pm

Whenever a parent tells me in conversation that their child loves my class or comes home talking about what they did in class my whole body smiles. I could not agree more – when they are having fun, they learn a whole lot more! (and bonus if they don’t even realize it at first!)

Jim Cash · November 17, 2015 at 9:51 pm

Great post, Erica! I have yet to be part of a full workshop in my educational career that was devoted to the visceral aspect of learning. Yes, I hear talk of engagement and enthusiasm and so on… but you are right… not so much talk about fun! I would add to what you said “Some may hear the words “fun” & “easy” and automatically think that means the opposite of learning” and say that fun can also include being challenged or, as Seymour Papert coined, having “hard fun” when learning… it’s that perfect balance of high-level skill and high-level challenge specifically matched to the learner.

    Ms. Armstrong · November 17, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Absolutely. Challenging certainly is fun. It’s balancing that line between success and frustration – as you said, specifically matched to each learner. I used to think that *I* was the one that had to find that perfect level of challenge for each learner but I am coming to see more and more that students know themselves really well. They don’t want things to be too easy (that’s boring) nor too hard (that’s frustrating) and will usually set themselves the perfect balance of challenge and success when given the opportunity.

Jonathan So · November 17, 2015 at 10:39 pm

Erica, kids say the funniest things. I think it takes a very special teacher to make all the difference about liking school and not. I have seen this with my own daughter and her teacher. Honouring those simple moments is what really makes the difference but it is a big difference. Because you smile back or laugh at a joke makes students want to be a part of your classroom.

Knowledge is great but we need our students to like and love learning and I see you do that everyday. Thanks for being an inspiration.

peelforestieri · November 18, 2015 at 10:11 pm

I sometimes joke with my students that they have only two settings: easy and difficult. When things are too easy I definitely hear about it and the scoffs begin. But then when things become challenging, the default reaction is to say it’s too difficult. I’m trying to get them to look at challenges not as being “too hard,” but as being just that, a challenge. But here you’ve given me something new to consider. I can think of at least a few situations in my own life when learning has been fun, and easy, and actually quite effective. Perhaps I need to change my own opinions about “easy” before I have this chat with my kids. Thank you.

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