Reclaiming “joy” in learning

Kia ora tatou

Thank you to all thbaby-with-play-ballsose who came to our seminar last week – the lecture theatre was almost full, and as I said, I was delighted to see so much interest from teachers, and pleased that working theories may at last be coming up the list for attention.

What I find interesting in the international social media space are the posts about ensuring that learning is meaningful and enjoyable, something that a focus on working theories fosters. These posts often come from countries with highly prescribed curricular documents where teachers struggle to justify incorporating learning processes alongside academics.

One example is:

What do you think about the notion of “joy” in learning? We can certainly see when we light a spark in children’s eyes through our pedagogical engagement with them, listening to them, and taking their ideas and theories seriously.

If you scroll all the way to the comments you will see Hannah Frank posit that joy and serious learning are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, that is so – as children ponder, explore, ask questions and so on they are also absorbing everyday and conceptual knowledge they can use more productively the next time they encounter that content and puzzle. This again supports the importance of building curriculum around children’s working theories.

The Nobel prize winning economist James Heckman runs an excellent research organisation that looks at longitudinal outcomes of education in order to justify investment in early education. He (or his team) often publish, including via blogs and tweets, about the value of social and emotional outcomes alongside academic outcomes. He sometimes calls these “soft skills” – I am not sure what I think about that term… Nevertheless, this again supports that learning is about much much more than academics.


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