'Our education system has become a joyless monster – we need to rediscover the FUN'

9th March 2017 at 12:00
Fun in the classroom
Enjoyment in the classroom is central to excellent teaching and learning – and the campaign to bring it back starts here...

I have what many might reckon to be an unenviable job at the moment: I am charged with convincing our sixth-form students to become teachers. It is not made any easier by all the recent negativity surrounding the profession.

Nonetheless, I hear myself saying to them such things as: "I enjoyed every single day of my 38 years in schools" and "What job could be better than one making a difference with our youngsters while enjoying every part of it?"

Sadly, too often these comments fall on deaf ears. Why? I have come to the conclusion that it is because, as a profession, we seem to have forgotten that teaching should be fun, enjoyable and fulfilling for all those involved.

In the desperate attempts to "clone" our profession, we have lost the most vital element necessary in our schools – the idea that both learning and teaching should be FUN.

Much research supports the beneficial link between this fun in the classroom and the development of authentic learning and long-term memory. When you ask children or adults to relate their best school experiences, they will always be linked to fun and those teachers who enjoyed what they were doing.

And so we need a campaign to bring this fun back to the classroom. I know there are thousands who do this daily but equally there are those who would do but for whom it has been driven out of them.

At the risk of being cheesy, when you go through that classroom door it should and must be a joy and not a chore....

'Enjoyment should be at the core of all we do'

We all know that if we replace spontaneity with conformity than that is exactly what we will get from the pupils. They will distance themselves from their learning and instead become robotic participants in the process. We need to place enjoyment at the very core of all we do

We have created an education system that more resembles a monster than a positive experience.

Driven by systems and structures and the need for accountability, it has lost its core purpose of ensuring that learning is both fun and life-long. It has turned children off education. This is unacceptable.

Teachers need to consider the role they can play in regenerating the profession. Let's rediscover that spark that led us all to the classroom in the first place and recognise the following:

  • Brilliant teaching is when the teacher and pupils learn together and view each other positively;
  • Teachers "being a bit of an idiot" in the classroom can be a positive trait not a negative one; 
  • Showing that you have a  passion for the job will be reflected in those you teach;
  • Laughter in the classroom is contagious and might even venture as far as the head's office;
  • Teachers enjoying teaching is essential to the processes of learning;
  • The best people to orchestrate this change are the teachers themselves.

We therefore need to revisit why we all wanted to become teachers. Let's rediscover FUN, and enthusiasm for the job, and the desire to change the system. 

This approach can be truly infectious and would certainly help me to convince our sixth formers that teaching as a profession is among the very finest worth entering.

Colin Harris led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsteds were 'outstanding' across all categories

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