Bad Idea for Dealing with the Behaviour Crisis #1: Make Lessons More FunApril 23, 2007
This is the favourite suggestion of educationalists, bureaucrats and other commentators that wouldn’t dare set foot in a classroom. The argument here is that if you make sure your class are being entertained then they won’t have any incentive to tell you to “go suck your mother”. All we need to do is have more games, group work, discussions, computers, interactive whiteboards and entertaining teachers and Jordan and Chantel will sit enthralled.
The obvious flaw with this argument is that discipline has gone out of the window at a time when teachers have come under more and more pressure to make their lessons fun. If we look at countries with better discipline than the UK (i.e. everywhere but a few bits of the US) we don’t see more interesting lessons. Similarly, if we go back a few decades to a time where students would be less likely to tell their teachers to perform sexual acts on their mothers we see no indication that lessons were any more fun, quite the opposite. Besides which, the biggest obstacle to lessons being enjoyable is student behaviour, and you can only experiment successfully with more enjoyable ways of learning if you have a class that are able to follow instructions and are willing to work.
Finally, I present to you the evidence from my local multiplex. Teenagers in the cinema audience have plenty of entertainment right in front of them. Yet somehow they still manage to chat, throw popcorn, and generally make a nuisance of themselves. If the latest Hollywood blockbuster can’t entertain them into good behaviour, what chance does any teacher have?