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When did fun become a four-letter word?

When did mentioning fun in physical education become likeswearing on prime time TV? I am struggling at the moment to come to terms with(or even find a term for) a professional desire to make my teaching fun or indeedenjoyable. Whenever I mention the idea of fun or enjoyment as a desired outcomeof my teaching I feel a sense of anxiety at the idea. Others warn me that thisis a dangerous and perhaps under-considered statement of intent because thepursuit of ‘busy, happy and good’ children has lead to some of the leasteffective, most ridiculed and perhaps the most despised practices of physicaleducation teachers. Yet when did the actions of some (maybe many) mean that fun– as an outcome – became a swear word?

I acknowledge, appreciate and thank all those who have takentime to engage me in a conversation on twitter about this and I hope that they,and others, are willing to engage in a discussion around this idea here…ideasthat I discussed initially on this blog in August. I guess the starting pointshould be me trying to articulate what it is I am aspiring to.

In simple terms I want the learning experiences I engenderin my work to be recalled as a significant to those I am working with. That isnot to say I want balloons and party poppers and rounds of applause at the endof every session. In fact I would be happy if they walked out talking heatedlyto each other as they had a debate of ideas. I don’t want it to be an irrelevance.Instead, I want them to ‘enjoy themselves.’ I acknowledge that I am strugglingfor the words but I am not looking for instant gratification just a sense thatsomething positive has happened as a result of my work.I feel that that is an appropriate andmeaningful goal for an educator to have.

I look back on my master’s degree and my PhD, and on myrugby and cricket playing days with fondness and I acknowledge them as highlysignificant in my life. I enjoyed them and would do them all again. Not everyaspect, in fact there were several that were hard, unpleasant even, butgenerally and over a long term. My limited vocabulary leaves me with the contestedterms ‘enjoyment’ and ‘fun’ but I am looking for a deeper and long term outcomealong the terms of ‘impact’ perhaps even naively as ‘nostalgia’ but definitely morefirm as lifelong learning’. Yet how do I achieve that? I like the idea of enjoymentwhile acknowledging that the term is linked to fun and it sits on the shadowline between what is good about education and bad about schooling. I don’t meanto swear but am struggling to find a more acceptable term. What do I mean?Answers on a postcard please.

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On Friday 23 September at 15:49 Catriona Oates said
Fun or games in learning that don't challenge lose their appeal. So things that might superficially appear to be "fun" don't necessarily satisfy or provide meaningful lasting "enjoyment" unless they make you think/try/work harder for something that is worth it, a sense of satisfaction, achievement, deeper enjoyment. I'm not sure if this is what you mean Ashley but for me as a languages teacher it's a big thing. I 've seen young people engaged half-heartedly in games/activities their teacher thought would be fun for them, but in fact it holds little challenge for them so it doesn't deliver this sense of enjoyment you're expressing here. Conversely, my colleague Derek Robertson who pioneered games based learning here in Scotland gets frustrated at the sometimes dismissive attitude some people have towards this powerful pedagogical innovation. Why are they messing around with these games at school? They spend enough time on them at home! Derek feels strongly the problem is in the name here - it's not games based learning, teaching and assessment, it's just GOOD learning, teaching and assessment. Not sure if this gets you any further in your thinking but I always like reading your blog anyway! Cheers Catriona :-)
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On Wednesday 19 October at 08:34 Helen Ives said
Fun isn't OFSTED criteria.

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