We often hear the phrase, “the joy of learning.” We accept that this is an important and worthy goal that educators and parents should have for children. When people enjoy doing something, they do it more and they do it better.So why is it that so many children, when asked whether they like school, say no? Is there a joy of learning in classrooms today? When there is, what does it look like? What engenders it?
“God Loves a Joyful Teacher”
A recent article entitled, “’God Loves a Joyful Teacher” – and So Do Pupils,” (www.academicreserchjournals.org/IJARER/PDF%202014/April/Rantala%20et%20al.pdf) examined the connection between teaching and learning, what produces joy in learning situations and how teachers bring this about. They concluded that the two most important components of joy in learning are self-directed learning and teachers’ self-esteem. “Teachers with poor self-esteem use traditional, teacher-led methods. Teachers with good self-esteem let pupils shine and step aside preferring work methods that support pupils’ activity and self-direction.” They go on to say that self-directed students “regulate and understand their action…and finish their tasks” and while “Not all pupils are equally self-directed…they can learn and develop that feature with the teacher’s guidance.”
They also found that while the joy of learning looks different in different teachers’ classrooms, some common elements are being aware of students’ varying abilities, providing cooperative learning experiences, allowing time to complete tasks, permitting play and giving students the opportunity to experience success. But they stressed that this occurs only in classrooms where teachers have positive self-esteem, where they are optimistic about what they are doing and about what their students are doing, where they believe they can overcome obstacles and where they “favor methods that necessitate abundant interaction” with their students, with parents and with colleagues.
The Joyful Classroom
So what does the joy of learning look like in the classroom? It’s probably a busy, lively place where the children are involved and engaged. In other words, it’s a stimulating environment. It’s a place where children’s natural curiosity is allowed to thrive, where they are comfortable and feel free to explore and play. It’s also a place where there is warmth, kindness and respect, where children feel safe and where there is plenty of fun and smiles. In short, it sends out good vibes and just feels right.
What are your thoughts about what joyful classrooms look like and what produces them?
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