Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

Entirely convinced way to best tell ‘real’ education professionals from those who view it entirely as ‘industry’ to be monetised and exploited for personal profit is in regularity of diary entries. Decide to trust only those who lapse into lengthy periods of apparent inactivity, resurfacing only occasionally during half termly holidays and at moments of extreme stress where unleashing thinly disguised diatribes is Only Means Of Survival. In rare moments of idle reflection wonder if this is more accurately sign of ageing process in self, but ingestion of caffeine puts mind at rest.

Half term too perhaps only time one gets nowadays to raise head above parapet of own to-do list in order to cast weary eye over educational landscape. Undoubtedly M much better versed in this kind of activity than I, so again she is source of precis of recent argumentative discourse on The Twitter surrounding the thorny topic of Should Learning Be Fun?

Once more appears that use of digital communications technologies drives individuals to consider issues in entirely binary terms. No room for middle ground or complex constructions of interconnected threads, but rather an insistence on This or That. Ones and zeros. Convinced there is some insidious digital corruption of the analogue world behind this, like some dreadful Computer Virus in reverse. M looks at me witheringly when I suggest this, but am entirely certain there is truth behind it.

Cursed to see value in arguments From Both Sides, perhaps predictably then find self to be somewhat ambivalent about question of Fun in Learning or indeed Learning in Fun. Entirely convinced however that most over-used and irrelevant word in education is ‘engaged’ and all associated derivations. Wholly convinced that conflation of the word ‘engaging’ and ‘fun’ behind confusion of issue for many people. Indeed, feel certain it is insistence on corralling complex relationships of ideas and activity into 140 characters that is at root of problem. Why this insistence on reducing things to ultimately meaningless lowest common denominator single words? ‘Engaged’, ‘Fun’ or indeed ’Serious’ are words that out of context are essentially meaningless after all.

M says this is All Very Well but what do I actually think? Concede to admit that with pistol held to temple one would tend to side with those who think pleasure and enjoyment are important ingredients of effective learning process. Would state further indeed that it is this notion of learning as interconnected sequence of iterative, cyclical steps which often appears to be missed by those who proclaim themselves as Masters Of The (current educational) Universe. It strikes me that an insistence on Following Rules and Silence At All Costs is something that frames learning as entirely linear narrative as opposed to post-modern elliptical or cyclical process and as a result continually reinforces a devaluation of multiple dialogues. (On re-reading this diary entry, would reluctantly admit that previous sentence perhaps overly influenced by aforementioned ingestion of caffeine).

Somewhat hesitant to admit that part of job one has always found most pleasant is dialogue with students. They do, after all, often say the most interestingly challenging things, and one ought always to feel challenged in life after all. Feel need to stress now, however, that the requirement to Actually Like Children has never been high on personal list of priorities for being an effective teacher. Not that one ought to actively dislike them of course, but there is as always a Happy Medium to be found. (As an aside, I have always been rather taken by LPW’s view that one can easily show interest in other people individually when one ultimately cares very little about people in general).

M looks over shoulder and suggests that use of the word ‘happy’ in previous paragraph seems remarkably appropriate in the circumstances. Not quite willing to go to the extreme as to suggest those forbidding the place of enjoyment in education as being “dead inside”, but the temptation is strong.

What is the point, after all, in going through one’s life in state of miserable seriousness?

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