SPRING into the Joy of Learning

Imagine a class that students look forward to daily. Connect what students love to do and what you love to teach, and expect fireworks to follow. Alfred North Whitehead (English philosopher in the early 1900s) calls us to Romance the Joy of Learning.

Even before research affirmed how fun boosts brainpower, Whitehead saw learning’s punch through joy. Do students connect fun with understanding in your lessons? My students call it funderstanding – when we deliberately weave delight into lessons by reconfiguring them to include a sense of adventure.

According to Robert Lee Holtz, Wall Street Journal Science Columnist, researchers found that sudden insights or Eureka moments show unique neural activity in EEG sensors. Interestingly, aha moments of sudden insights are the culmination of an intense and complex series of brain states that require more neural resources than methodological reasoning. It seems the brain is most actively engaged when our mind is wandering joyfully, and we’ve actually lost track of our thoughts.

Joy impacts moods, motivation and achievement in reconfigured learning.

How so?
1. Connect joy to learning by generating one different approach for each lesson. Perhaps students overcome a problem they face, or propose a new possibility for a lesson event.

2. Connect lessons to student capabilities so they teach others as they learn themselves. Research shows we retain less than 5% of what’s heard in lectures, and 90% of what we teach others.ELLEN JOY OF LEARNING

3. Connect choices to adventures that add resilience. Guided ventures such as class publications, can inspire students to focus on even the most challenging tasks. I display a poster with Helen Keller’s reminder, Life must become a daring adventure or it is nothing at all.

4. Connect lessons to joyful learner experiences. When facts relate to student lives, they can fuel wisdom and drive well being. For instance, I collaborate all outcomes with students so they help to design relevant tasks that meet our core standards.

5.  Connect lessons to laughter that amps up student dividends. Brain chemicals such as serotonin which is associated with well-being, open minds to deeper understanding, In contrast cortisol, which is associated with anger, fear, stress, boredom, or frustration – shuts down learning.

Imagine your next class where students come with keen awareness of their capabilities and a craving to romance the joy of learning together. What will you do to spring your next lesson into life?


EllenBrain7 (1)Ellen Weber is a whole brain curriculum specialist at secondary and higher education. She works in secondary and college learning renewal where she has won awards internationally for her practical brain based Mita model to engage both sides of students’ brains.

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2 thoughts on “SPRING into the Joy of Learning

  1. This is such a refreshing idea, Ellen! I remember that as a student teacher and younger teacher, I had such enthusiasm and desire to make learning enjoyable. Sadly, after many years pressured by testing mandates and entrenched in the “system,” I got to a point where I disliked teaching, and certainly didn’t convey excitement to my students. Fortunately though, as a more seasoned teacher who has confidence in my abilities, I’ve regained most of the “spark” that first led me to teaching. Once again, I try to incorporate relevancy, games, and movement into my instruction. Thanks for reminding us that these methods lead to student learning!

  2. Kim, what a refreshing story of human recycling — which defines the wonder of the career we love. Thanks for sharing — your story brings me back to days when I simply felt burned out – and I think students face those challenges too. Then we come back and we are reminded that learning can be for each of us, a series of metamorphic movements in the direction of delight! Happy weekend! Ellen

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