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Monday, October 24, 2011

Why Isn't School Fun?

Sometimes, at the start of a semester, I ask students, "If you had a choice, would you be taking this class?" They overwhelmingly say "No."

In many respects, it isn't a choice. It's an obligation. An obligation to seek a degree for a better job and higher pay. And English classes, for the most part, are taken to fill core requirements. You don't often get a student auditing composition or taking it as an elective. (Creative writing classes are different. More on that later.)

It makes me wonder, though, why so many people pay to take classes at the YMCA, or the art museum, or with some sports organization, freely giving up their personal time and money in order to submit to someone else's schedules and rules.

The answer is, I think, because it's fun. (Well, duh!)

But why isn't school fun?
Why isn't a writing class fun?
Is it impossible?
Will school always be boring?

Think back to a time when you've really enjoyed a class...it can be school-related or otherwise. Many people go to Bible Study, or yoga, or writing groups, or book clubs on their own time. They choose to go, receive no credits, and possibly even pay money to be there.

Why?

It's more than just fun. People want to grow and change. They want to become better people. They want to get better at something they love. This is the best sort of fun.

In fact, the most fun you'll ever have in life is when you're performing at a high level in some activity that suits your skills. This is sometimes referred to as a "Flow State" or "being in the Zone." The Zone is more than just fun...it's transformation. You become bigger, better, different.

We want fun and we want transformation and we want it now!

Anything less is boring and not worth our time.

In fact, the "merely fun" is boring. School shouldn't be fun. It should be beyond fun. Then we can lay off all the truant officers.

All of this is, of course, too much to ask. It's also the only thing worth asking.

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