I always have so much to share, but one of the most important messages of my presentation – and indeed all of my trainings – is helping other educators understand why they often meet resistance from their students or participants to step outside their comfort zones, and be engaged in their learning.
Most of us understand the basic premise of needing to “break the ice” to help prepare our students for the tasks and challenges ahead of them, but rarely is this vital step delivered particularly well. We must learn how to break the ice.
In my experience, there are five key ingredients an experience must feature to successfully break the ice and engage students in their learning, to help them prepare to step outside their comfort zones (you do know that no learning occurs within the comfort zone, right?).
The most obvious, and possibly, most important element is to ensure that the experience is FUN. But, please note, by “fun” I do not necessarily mean the laughing, smiling, jolly meaning of the word. The fun I’m referring to is more properly defined as ‘play’ or ‘flow.’
My latest book Serious Fun makes the argument that we – teachers, educators, program leaders – should take fun more seriously, because it can have such a powerful impact on the transformation of our groups. Yet, before you dismiss this as folly, you need to first understand the type of fun I’m talking about. I’m referring to those experiences in which students are 100% engaged in what they are doing because:
There is no win/lose proposition,
There is a strong desire for it to continue,
There is little if any consciousness of self and others, and
The students lose all sense of time.
We all have these experiences.
My Mum, for example, loves gardening. She can be outside pottering away for hours, and not realise that half the day has disappeared. This is serious fun, and is the sort of fun I inject into my programs to not only help my participants feel more comfortable with one another, but to invite them outside of their comfort zone to embrace a more challenging situation in which they may grow, learn and develop their skills.
This sort of fun is disarming, contagious and particularly difficult to step away from. Which is why every PE teacher, classroom teacher, camp leader, etc, must imbue their programs with a heavy dose of fun. Serious fun engages participants, and invites them to step willingly into their stretch zone, which as we all know, is the only zone in which learning occurs.
As I say, fun is just one of the five elements every program must embrace if you truly wish to engage your students. The other four elements, I shall describe during my keynote address…
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