All we are saying, is give Joy a chance

Maybe it’s the beginning of the school year but I seem to get especially idealistic about the possibilities of new learning opportunities for students. First beauty, now joy.

This month’s issue of Educational Leadership features a great article by Steven Wolk (someone get him a blog) on Joy in School. Wolk finds 11 things schools need to do to create joy in learning.

According to my Random House dictionary, joy means, “The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something good or satisfying.” Surely our schools can do some of that. Joy and learning—including school content—are not mutually exclusive. Many of our greatest joys in life are related to our learning. Unfortunately, most of that joyful learning takes place outside school.

Each one of the 11 ideas are worth doing. Of particular interest to me is Joy 10: Transform Assessment. The damage of poor and inappropriate assessments have done more to create joyless learners than just about anything. Reading Kathy Cassidy’s blog it’s not hard to see how understanding what good assessment looks likes can create confident, excited learners who already are experiencing joy.

Huge grins all around. The child who told me, “I don’t know how to write” and “I don’t know what to say” visibly sat up straighter in his chair when he saw that he had eighteen reads. He is now beginning to think of himself as a writer.

Why do we always have to point to Kindergarten and primary grades as examples where joy is present in learning? Why does it seem like the further we go in school, the more we lose this joy? I experience this joy daily because I am a learner first. I still think there are great examples of joyful learning in our schools and I’m going to pay attention and document them as much as possible. I’d suggest you do the same.

Photo: Pezzettino Pictures by Mrs. Cassidy’s Class

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  • Yes! So today as I announced to my journalism class that there would be homework, one senior girl moaned, “Oh, no!” causing a laugh-around the room.
    And then I explained the homework (writing a news story about the all school assembly that has been a tradition at our school for 107 years) and she exclaimed again, “That sounds like fun!’ (Clearly no governor between brain and mouth for this child). Another laugh-around the room.
    “Thanks for that vote of confidence, Elizabeth.,” I said.
    Maybe not joy, but humor and no homework dread. And yes, we will publish soon.
    You are so right. Joy is “great delight or happiness caused by something good or satisfying” and it makes those long Mondays less long.

    Kate Tabors last blog post..“All that is not my soul…”

  • Great message, Dean.

    On topic, I experienced joy just yesterday as I taught a teacher how to use Google calendar within a wiki. Sometimes the little things like which button to push when can really get in the way for a number of our teachers/students. Seeing her eyes light up as the process finally “clicked” for her was fantastic – for her and for me.

    Focus on the positives and the negatives take care of themselves.

    Darren Drapers last blog post..Share This

  • Kate and Darren,

    Both great examples. Thanks for sharing. Taking pleasure in good work seems like a no brainer and a natural thing to do and yet for many schools, this is elusive.

  • Timely post Dean, yesterday I shared this article with our high school administrators and curriculum facilitators. I agree with you, as children move through school their joy of learning seems to diminish, by the time they get to high school for many they are just putting in time. Sure they learn, but their leaning in not joyful, creative, or something they have control over in terms of discovery.

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