We forget, especially when we are deep in the weeds of the school year and our work and our lives, how important it is to simply have fun. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry says in The Little Prince, “All grown-ups were once children … but only a few of them remember it.” And I think this is not just true of teachers, but all grown-ups? Yeah, all grown-ups.
Much of what we do as educators can quickly become laser focused on meeting curricular goals, checking off academic boxes, teaching to tests, making sure students are “college ready,” etc. In this way, school is hard, not only for us, but the kids we teach who are swamped with “stuff” to do. If you’re not convinced that students do too many school work related things, you should read my previous blogs. If you’ve been reading my blogs over the past several months, you’ve likely noticed an ongoing motif that I’ve been interested in—how we’re all jumping through hoops. So much of what students do in school, and even what we do as teachers, often feels performative. In this way, most of our students don’t have time for fun . . . unlike students, I don’t think I need to convince you that the job of teaching and adulting is full of “after-hours” work. It’s when we’re deepest in these pursuits though, planning, grading, and checking off curricular boxes, that we also fail to remember how important it is, simply and earnestly, have a good time. Which is why olympics, service days, field trips, recess, that daily, ten minute “break” period are, in my view, so doggone important—imperative even.
Throughout this post, you can see some of the joys we had at the Middle School olympics this year. Students spent the better part of this second quarter writing commercials and crafting flags for their fast food related teams. They played various games all across campus, from a trivia quiz bowl, to beach towel volleyball, to relay races, and the perennial dodgeball tournament. I know that there are those among us who might think that these days are laborious. Some even might think that activities like the olympics aren’t even “school” in the traditional sense. Certainly those of us from the South understand that there’s nothing more joy inducing that the swampy sweat and humidity of an absurdly hot day in late May.
But these are the memories and moments our students cherish the most: that awesome tag out they got their 7th-grade year playing dodgeball, the time the ran the table getting question after question right at trivia, or how they were so sweaty and exhausted after their 5th-grade olympics, but they had pure, unadulterated, fun. And If that’s not reason enough for their value in what we do, I’m not sure what is. I hope you all have a fun summer! I have had such a blast writing these blogs each month. It was work, to be fair, but the best work is the work you have fun doing, and these have brought me so, so, so much joy.