Should Learning Be Fun?

should learning be funThis week I was at an educational conference and during casual conversation about making education fun a man said “that’s not how it was when I went to school!” We were interrupted at that point but reading into his comment I understood him to mean that “fun” is not necessary in education today because it wasn’t a priority in his day. That rationale might be like comparing apples to oranges. However, it got me thinking about the idea of fun in the catechetical environment. So, should learning be fun?

Why Learning Shouldn’t be Fun.

There are some who say fun is a distraction from learning. They feel it’s a waste of time, like inserting fluffy stuff like gluing cotton balls to paper bunnies (which might rely on knowledge of animal anatomy and hand-eye coordination). These are those who believe in linear and prescribed educational approaches like desks lined up in a row, teacher-driven learning, and silent classrooms. Many rely on rote memory by using specific questions and answers. Others feel like the only way to learn is to take turn reading from the text to not miss any detail or fact.

Why Shouldn’t Learning be Fun?

There are many aspects of our faith that are simply not fun, and maybe shouldn’t be. Contemplating the tenants of the faith, reading scripture, learning about morality and the implications that go with it, the Ten Commandments, and the Creed are just a few. But as serious as these concepts are to believers, what can’t teaching them be presented in an appealing and fun way? Enjoying what you do improves state of mind and attitude, which is important to learning and retention. Having fun makes students want to come back to class versus remembering the sessions as painfully boring. Also, being able to re-present material in a creative way is on the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Today, I’ll share couple of ways to gamify religious education so that students have fun while learning serious details of faith formation.

Flip Quiz

Flipquiz is a great tool that can be adapted to any classroom with a computer. It’s like Jeopardy on cyber-steroids! With a free Flipquiz account catechists can easily create fun trivia-type games to reinforce the details of any faith topic. For example, our seventh graders learn all about the Rosary. Along with how to pray the Rosary they are expected to know all of the prayers that make up the Rosary. They are to know all of the mysteries and the events that correspond with each mystery. They also learn the Hail Holy Queen prayer. I created a Flipquiz supporting this information that we play occasionally during class. The students love it as learning these details has become a game.

Play the Rosary Flipquiz for yourself!

 Space Racers

Space Racers is a feature in the Socrative software suite. Socrative is a free site with accompanying app that is easy to use for catechists and students. Simply select a set of questions for any topic and create your list. Students can download the app or login on their smartphone. They play as an individual or as teams to answer review questions as fast as they can. Space rockets race to the finish line as students answer the questions. The winning student or team cheers with delight and pride at their accomplishment. (and YOU know they have learned the material without one complaint!) This is great to use at the end of class as an informal summative assessment. I also use it to review the words of the week prior to the WOW test every six weeks or so. Here’s an image of Space Race.

 Space Race

Catechist’s Poll: Should Learning Be Fun?

Share your answer now!

 Hopefully you know how you approach learning. You have your opinion and reasons to support them so after giving it some thought please share your responses below in the Catechist’s Poll.

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