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Some students find the most mundane activities entertaining. Others are not happy with any form of presentation or alternative scheduling activities. I don't believe it's possible for a teacher to please all students, whether it pertains to grading, lecturing, assignments, activities, etc. Like the comic who delivers a punchline, not everyone will laugh. Nor will all classroom activities be entertaining to all students. Should a teacher make a personal attempt to entertain or "engage" the students in order to make class more interesting and tolerable? Absolutely.
mrsmonica said exactly what I believe to be true: being engaged is not the same as being entertained, and being engaged is the key to student learning. Being entertained is a passive experience; being engaged is an active experience that requires students to use their minds in logical as well as creative ways. Students who are engaged are never bored because they are busy, thinking and doing.
I know it is popular now in education to stress the science of instruction, but I will always believe that excellent teaching is also an art. Engaging students and creating an atmosphere in which they can feel safe to be themselves, make mistakes, try again, have some fun along the way, and learn beats entertaining them every time--and they know the difference.
I don’t think that students need to be entertained; however, it is crucial that they be engaged. Students who are bored and “checked out” don’t learn nearly as much, if at all. Some teachers are of the opinion that the subject matter itself is sufficient reason for students to apply themselves. This is an antiquated notion that perpetuates the cycle of boredom that so many middle and high school students endure. Creative teachers who can figure out ways to pique students’ interest day after day are the ones whose classrooms are prized and have waiting lists. They are the instructors who parents request year after year. This is not because they entertain students, but because they engage them. In the age of accountability, it is now possible to see which teachers spur low-achieving and average students to higher achievement outcomes. You can bet your bottom dollar that those teachers know how to engage their students.
Some amount of entertainment, when directly related to the subject being taught, helps to keep the students interested and focused on the subject being taught. But too much of entertainment, or entertainment no related to the subject is definitely undesirable in the classroom. It causes distraction, and reduces the time available for the subject being taught.
And all learning involves becoming familiar with knowledge and ideas that were unfamiliar earlier. This cannot be done without some amount of mental effort and discipline. Entertainment on the other hand involves relaxing the mind. If you find that a teacher is so entertaining that his student have to make no efforts to concentrate in his class, chances are that the teacher is not teaching much.
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