Blog Post

Taking the Fun Out of Enjoyment

Last weekend I cleaned out my apartment over a period of three days.  I was even called a hoarder on Twitter.  Anyway, three days and multiple bags of trash certainly give a person a lot of time to think and reflect.  The majority of what I was throwing away was papers from when I used to teach at other schools as a part-time instructor.  I had to keep the papers at home because I never had an office.

What struck me as odd though is looking through all of the student work I had kept from over the years and realizing that I used to have fun in my classes.  I used to have students do in-class presentations on famous mathematicians, create games and puzzles related to the unit we were studying, and do a lot of other fun paper-based activities when I first started teaching.

But now that I am trying to create more games, activities, and projects for my classes, I actually feel like my classes are less fun than they used to be.  The students still think that the classes are fun.  I am just saying that my own perspective has changed.  Does this mean that I am headed in the wrong direction and that I am headed for doom?  Or does it just mean that I am not as naïve as I used to be and I am more focused on the specific objectives of each game, activity, and project?

I go into every semester thinking that it will be different, that I will have lots of games and activities for my students to do throughout the semester.  But somehow it always turns out that after the first few weeks I begin to get buried in grading and the usual junk that always comes my way as the semester gets underway.  I am not sure how to prevent this from happening, except by better planning on my part.

So, what I can I do differently to ensure I will have fun in class, as well as my students?  Do not get me wrong, I really enjoy teaching.  I tell that to my students all the time.  I make sure that my students are very aware that I enjoy and like what I do for a living.  But I feel as if I have come to a point where I have taken the fun out of enjoyment.  Is it really possible to enjoy something without having fun?  I really hope that I am wrong and that I am not headed for doom.

By Jon Oaks

College Math Instructor. Tech Enthusiast. Visionary. Creative Genius. But above all, I enjoy what I do. That is why I am a teacher. Because I like to teach.

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