Why Learning Should Be Fun
And How Teachers Can Make It Happen
by Joy Lin
As an educator, I try my best to present the required curriculum to my students in an interesting and relatable way. I used to work in Travis County Detention Center as the science department chair. The students in any given class would range from 12 to 17 years old, but they all had one thing in common: they did not like reading textbooks. I found it difficult to hold their attention during a lecture, so I started referencing pop culture.
As a class, we would watch a clip from a popular movie and then analyze it scientifically. For instance, when Spider-Man holds Mary Jane and swings from the left of the screen to the right of the screen, which direction should her hair fly? Is it possible for Tony Stark to create a new stable element when all the positively charged protons would repel each other? If light is shining through the invisible girl’s body, including her eyes, doesn’t that mean she is blind since her eyes cannot act as receptors of light?
Every Friday, we used to hold class discussions on superpowers and how realistic it would be for them to exist in real life. One day, the guards told me that even the quiet students in my room discussed my class when they went back to the dorms. Some students gained an interest in science and started checking out books on certain scientific topics that were not assigned from class.
When I moved on to teach math at the elementary level, I realized if I make the examples something students can relate to, they are able to understand it better. Instead of asking them to divide 25 imaginary apples, if I ask them to put their 25 classmates in teams, they can visualize the problem and understand what operation to use. With my high school students, they start paying extra attention if the word problem deals with money in a scenario they might encounter. Most students enjoy hearing stories to which they can relate, and tend to remember the lessons associated with an experience.
With the advancement of technology, we are teaching a group of students with shorter attention spans. It becomes increasingly difficult to hold their attention through a full day of learning. I find students to be most receptive when I can make analogies that they can relate to, and this applies to all subjects. In chemistry, double replacement can be compared to the TV show “Wife Swap” and single replacement is just like dumping your ex for your current boyfriend/girlfriend. In biology, mutualism is an equal relationship while parasitism is like that friend who keeps eating your food but never brings any to share.
For students who struggle with the English language, getting through a class in an unfamiliar language can be daunting. This is why it is very important for us to make the process of learning as fun and easy to absorb as possible. Nothing motivates learners as much as fun does because it comes from genuine interest from within instead of pressure from others. Students are much more likely to invest extra time in the learning process if they enjoy it.
- edCircuit – An Educator Who Sees the English Inside the Math Exams
- Forbes – Social Entrepreneurs’ Mission: Make Learning To Code Fun
- The Bakersfield Californian – STEAM Day aims to make learning fun
This post includes mentions of a partner of MindRocket Media Group the parent company of edCircuit