Guest Opinion Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Nov 27, 2008 at 4:20 pm
My second grader came home from school the other day and reported to me that in some of the older elementary grades, the classroom teachers forbid their students to use the word "fun". I was astonished, and discovered upon further inquiry that the reason the word "fun" has been expelled from some classrooms is two-fold. The first reason is that the older students are gearing up for middle school, so it's time for them to become serious students who are serious about their educations. The other reason is that "fun" is a highly over-used word and the students need to become more articulate and precise in their use of the English language.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 28, 2008, 12:00 AM
Posted by miriam, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 27, 2008 at 4:20 pm
amen sister!! I'm appalled actually but i thought your article was great. There is already so much pressure on young kids today - we need to motivate them in any way we can to succeed. Peter, totally agree with your comments too!
Posted by peter m, a resident of another community, on Nov 27, 2008 at 4:22 pm
Well written Nancy. I don't understand today's "educators." There seems to be an assault on fun in learning, and if they succeed children will come to hate school.
Children already grow up too fast, let them have fun in school. My father always told me when I was in school to "have fun now, there's plenty of time for being serious when you have bills, mortgage, etc., when you are older."
Posted by Tom, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 29, 2008 at 11:22 am
Way to take something out of context, and talk about something on which you have little information. I am sure the students in the class are taught to do better research and give informed opinions. Next time you might want to talk to the people involved. I am sure if you ask the students they would give you a different opinion.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Nov 29, 2008 at 10:00 pm
This rings a bell from when my daughter was in 5th grade at Vintage Hills. At the time it sounded like reverse psychology and it must have worked. My daughter reports that it was one of the funnest years she had. She never truly believed that she couldn't have fun - she understood what the teacher was doing. I'm wondering if it's a program or a workshop idea that some upper elementary teachers have learned.
Posted by PToWN94566, a resident of another community, on Nov 30, 2008 at 6:50 pm
I wonder how many of the "No Fun" teachers are older people are fresh out of college teachers. I'm studying to be a teacher and everything I have learned or applied to the classroom experience says nothing about not having fun being a good thing. Kids of all ages need to move around and have hands-on activities to help with comprehension; plus it keeps them as well as the teacher from getting bored. I had a few older teachers in middle and high school and I remember them having a "no fun" attitude". All it was was sitting in a desk and taking notes while the teacher blabbed on for what seemed like hours. Funny though that teachers want students to think about buckling down when there's been numerous studies about engaging students in hands-on learning and project based learning and how those students score better on the standardized tests as well as have higher numbers of a graduating student body that goes on to college.
Julie I worked at Vintage Hills for a few years during high school and right after (early 2000's)- I must say that the 5th grade teachers are wonderful educators. They had their curriculum together and every student I came across there always had positive things to say.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Nov 30, 2008 at 7:16 pm
My younger daughter's 5th grade teacher was wonderful. She was young, though had experience (i.e. not fresh out of college). The whole "can't say or have f-u-n" idea actually seemed to make the learning more fun. At the time it had the feel of an "inside joke". She had a lot of fun and was also very well prepared for middle school.
Posted by PToWN94566, a resident of another community, on Nov 30, 2008 at 10:34 pm
You know what's funny, I just read on a teacher website for a Pleasanton school that starts with V, that one of the teachers said "You will quickly realize that all we do in Rm. 24 is learn, learn, and learn some more! There is absolutely no F_N in Room 24!!" And this is for a 5th grade class. I want to know where did this teacher learn that fun doesn't accompany education?
This teacher needs to get out of the classroom and go teach college. All my memories of elementary school were nothing but fun.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Dec 1, 2008 at 2:32 pm
PToWN94566, I think if you actually spent time in Room 24 & got to know that teacher, then you would understand better what the teacher is doing. To judge the teacher based on an isolated sentence that you read on their website, well, I have to agree with Tom, that's not enough research to support a claim that the teacher "needs to get out of the classroom and go teach college". My daughter reported that she had a very fun 5th grade year - not THE funnest (they do have to start working harder in 4th and 5th grades) compared to earlier grades, but fun nonetheless.
It's ironic to me that everyone dumps on teachers and blames them for not teaching enough, for not getting our kids to learn enough and here they are getting dumped on for not making it fun enough. I wish EVERYONE had to spend a day, or better a week, being a teacher!
Posted by A, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Dec 1, 2008 at 6:48 pm
Julie!! Awesome lady that you are!! I really appreciate how positive you are. It must overflow into every area of your life. I think you hit it right on. I'm really curious to know of all these negative comments from people--how many of them actually spent time in the classroom and got to know these so called "cold-hearted, anti-fun" teachers... it's so sad to me how quickly others slander other humans...
There's a book that 5th graders read by Sharon Creech that states: Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons (two months) in their moccasins. I think this really applies to what's going on in this "guest opinion" piece.
I'm guessing that people aren't stopping to think about how hurtful this can be to teachers/educators/etc. It also sounds extremely IRONIC how this "fun" thing all seems to be rooted in silliness and jesting. It doesn't seem to be a lesson in synonyms at all. This author really seemed to miss the big target. I think all these opinions have been formed without walking even a week in these teachers' moccasins!!
Posted by Fellow Teacher, a resident of another community, on Dec 4, 2008 at 7:34 am
Isn't it ironic that Pleasanton school children are being taught the meaning of "social bullying" and how damaging it is not only to the child (person) being bullying, but it is also an indication of the character of the one who bullies? This site is full of "social bullying" by adults who often do not have enough information to draw the conclusions they do and then the bog bullying is often very close to slander of a person's character. I personally know the teacher in question, and of course, her children have fun. She teaches them that when you become a lifelong learner one who digs deep into thinking and takes risks that learning can become a passion. Passion for learning is more than "fun". She also wants them to use more descriptive language than "fun", Parent, please "seek to understand" before slandering a fine and dedicated professional. You took something you heard out of the context. I think if you had spoken to any other teacher or administrator on campus or any of the children in her class, you would have spared this teacher from the pain that you have caused by your thoughtless letter to the entire community of Pleasanton.
Posted by fellow teacher, a resident of San Ramon, on Dec 4, 2008 at 8:03 pm
I must say I agree. This is truly slander of an educator which I personally know was taken out of context. There is however a lesson here........not all sources are reliable! I am sure glad I teach my students not to believe everything they read, as some sources are based on a lack of insight and knowledge. However it is unfortunate that a fellow educator had to take such a "low blow".
When a human being can slander another without full knowledge it shows their OWN ignorance.
Posted by PToWN94566, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 4, 2008 at 9:17 pm
Julie I'll break it to you but I have spent years in and out of a classroom. A teacher that posts something as such should know better. School isn't about sitting in a deak and listening day in and day out- it's an adventure that is supposed to be fun, entertaining, comical, challenging and edcuational all at the same time. I took offense to those simple words because I have assisted or witnessed teachers that lecture all day long to younger children when they should be moving around, engaging in hands-on, project based activities. A lot is expected of teachers, that's a given. With the standardized tests and threats of budget cuts, teachers do deal with a lot. They should be taking the required material and making it interactive to let students move around. Yes the word fun is not a good choice or words, especially if a student is in the 5th grade getting ready to move on to middle school. Reading the statement that is posted on the teachers website does come off as if her students should be sitting all day; if I remember right it said something about being a fire breathing dragon. Place yourself in an outsiders shoes- if you were moving here to Pleasanton and was exploring the website and came across this page, would you want your child in this classroom? I agree that my judgements do underestimate the teacher as I do not know her, but this is what life serves you. Placing something as precious as a child in a classroom that doesn't foster creativity or exploration would not be a wish in my book. Reading that particular web page made me feel that way and personally there is nothing wrong with that.
Fun is an over-used word but there are better ways for this teacher to get her point across. The first reason for no fun is absolutely absurd. Making a student become serious to then become serious about their education. This goes with classroom management skills and how a teacher can keep his/her class under control while also providing enriching lesson plans. If an educators curriculum is doing it's job properly, students of all ages should be serious since the point of school is suppose to help students explore their own interests as well as explore new ones. If a child takes a liking to some activity or event, they are more than serious. As time goes on, they will realize that there are subjects or events in life we don't like to do but we have to do them. Making a 5th grader "serious" is not called for as they are still children. We live in a society where people don't like it when younger children act older but at the same time we expect them to be "serious" and act like adults when need be.
Overall I'm sure the teacher is a great educator. I had close ties with teachers in the 5th grade at Vintage Hills who no longer work there; only know the two senior 5th grade teachers. Our schools in this town are nothing but exceptional. My words about having "fun" in the classroom come out of my own experieneces and studies as the teaching profession itself has changed tremondously since I first started Kindgergarten in the early 80's.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 4, 2008 at 9:44 pm
Different teaching styles effect students differently.
One of the most feared teachers in my junior high school is the one who inspired me to be a teacher. He was not many students' favorite teacher but he was mine. I am not the same kind of teacher he was but he inspred me. Having said that . . .
When I was a fairly new teacher, a veteran teacher came to do an inservice for our faculty. He talked about being burned out after 25 years. He decided at one point he should either figure out why he became a teacher or get out and do something else. He looked around at teachers who seemed to be energized and asked questions. One teacher talked about allowing the kids the joy of learning. He thought of that and decided to model a lesson after something the other teacher told him. Part of the lesson was to have students talk to each other about how to explain a complex physics concept. He fought the urge to tell a group of boys to be quiet because he had begun to believe that no noise meant learning. As the boys continued to work their laughter got louder and he continued to fight his aggravation with the noise because he had committed to trying the lesson modeled by the other teacher. At one point he walked by the boys and said something like you better get to work and they just turned and looked at him somewhat surprised. At the end of the work period he asked each group to get up and explain the concept they each work on. The boys were giddy with expectation of their turn and the teacher was quit sure they had waisted their time.
Finally the boys stood, with that the teacher pulled out their product and showed the faculty what they had done. It was extraordinary, in color and in a very understandable way explained the concept using a guitar, an amp and an electrical plug.
The veteran teacher said, "When in my career did I stop remember the joy of learning?"
That profoundly affected my career. It is not about the grade, It is about the joy of lifelong learning.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 5, 2008 at 8:39 pm Julie is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
While I realize that a parent might explore a teacher's website in order to learn something *before* their child is in that class, overall those websites are targeted to the parents of the children currently IN their classroom. Basically, the majority of people reading the website **know** the teacher and the class and are not reading the blog in a void.
If you have directly observed and/or assisted mediocre teachers, that's a bummer. The point is, you have obviously not observed *this* teacher.
My other child's teacher did not SAY they couldn't have fun, but let me tell you, she did NOT have much fun. She was harassed by many of the students and the "girl garbage" (a label invented by another one of the 5th grade teachers) was not deemed important enough to deal with. I wish that she would have had the teacher who **claimed** that they don't have f_u_n!
Posted by David, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 8, 2008 at 11:13 am
Interesting opinion piece. I happen to know the very 5th grade teachers in Pleasanton who do this particular “fun is an ‘f-word’” classroom gag. It happens to build a bit of camaraderie amongst the class as they catch one another using “fun” instead of the profusion of alternative words. It was also created as a joke within the class because one of the benefits of having a 5th grade class is their developing sense of humor; probably something a 2nd grader would not yet understand.
The suggestions that Mrs. Lyness gives are great, but a little late as they are already being used in at least one of the classrooms. But adjectives are not the key lesson, the team-building fun of the inside joke is. Removing the word does not remove the reality.
Truly education need not be boring, but if the emphasis becomes fun then the education (both academic and experiential) diminishes. When fun is utilized education can and does thrive, but if fun is the focus then we would not be discussing the classroom, we would be discussing the babysitter. One of the primary responsibilities of an educator is to help prepare students for what they will very likely encounter in the real world, and in the workplace of life fun is generally not the primary goal. Allowing students to dictate what fun will and will not be tolerated in the classroom is dysfunction.
Evidently the teachers in question were not queried in this “further inquiry” process. I say “evidently” because I was present when a couple of them discussed this opinion piece—much to the dismay of the teachers who were misrepresented—and according to them the facts were not presented accurately.
Bottom line: go to the source, it’s always better that way.
Posted by DIsgusted, a resident of another community, on Dec 16, 2008 at 10:14 pm
Personally, I am disgusted by this letter and the fact that so many of you are discussing this topic. As the husband of a teacher, I just had to respond.
Did you all stop and think about how your thoughtless comments and opinions might actually be hurting the person this was written about? The teacher who doesn't use "fun" in her classroom I've heard is an amazing teacher. She inspires her students and has an incredible relationship with them. She doesn't use the word "fun" but if you took some time to talk to her students, you would find that they have plenty of it in the classroom. The fact that 2nd grade parent felt that she had the right to voice her opinion about somehing she knows nothing about is so typical of so many of you Pleasanton parents. Who the hell do you think you are?
My wife is a teacher in Pleasanton and I am just so sick and tired of how so many parents treat her. It's not intentional, it's just total disregard for her as a person. These teachers put their heart and souls into their jobs, they wake up in the middle of the night- worrying about YOUR children and what they can do to help them be successful. They don't just walk away from their jobs everyday at 3:00 like so many of you believe. They work countless weekends and nights, go to school during the summer to better themselves, purchase materials out of their own pocket, and this is the kind of thanks they get. My wife's only been teaching for 8 years and I can just see her getting burned out before my eyes.
To that 2nd grade parent and so many of you that agreed with her- Shame on YOU. Shame on You. If your child or you have had poor teachers in the past, well, haven't we all. I hope you find some comfort in knowing that you just attacked one of the good ones... good for you.
Now maybe from a husband's persepective I can offer some advice/information that so many of those teachers out there would love to say to you all, but can't because of their pay grade.
Here are some common sense tips for parents in dealing with teachers.
1. Think before you send your child's teacher an email. Although email is convenient, it has become an incredible burden on teachers. I was just talking to my wife and she has 1800 emails in her inbox. Don't ask about a date that has already been sent to you or a quick reminder. Think that ten other parents are doing the same and she is required by the district to respond within 24 hours. Nice, your laziness just kept her from coming home on time for dinner.
The teacher's job is to teach your child, not keeping track of your schedule. Pay attention to the reminders and tools that your child's teacher has set up for you. The last thing a teacher wants to do is have to teach YOU as well.
2. Whether you belive it or now, teachers are professionals. Treat them in the same way you would treat any other professional. You wouldn't just drop in and demand a meeting with your doctor, accountant, or anyone else. Don't do it to a teacher. Most of them are too polite to say, "I'm sorry, can we make an appointment because I am supposed to use this time to organize and plan a great lesson for the 33 kids in my class for tomorrow, but here, let me explain what I've already explained to your child 3 times and wrote you in an email."
I'm sure she would be happy to meet with you if you just make an appointment. She has 33 students and if each parent wants a "drop in" conference, imagine how much time that would take before and after school.
3. Check in with your kid. Don't have great lipservice at a conference and then go home and not follow through. Step up parents. Teachers are not only having to teach all the subjects, but are teaching your kids about how to be a good person, have manners, and many other life skills because you're just dropping the ball.
4. Read the book, The Price of Priviledge.
Please in the future, think about the ripple affect of your actions, You never quite now how big of an impact you are making, for good and bad. This careless letter without checking facts is evidence of this.
Posted by children, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Dec 21, 2008 at 8:05 pm
on behalf of all the pleasanton students, teachers please treat them with consideration and respect as they should treat you. Please don't expect that they have mastered all acceptable behaviors, they are still learning.
I have seen first hand many instances of the teachers yelling, scolding, degrading the students. They should have chosen another profession if they emotionally cannot handle being with kids all day.
Posted by A high school mom, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Jan 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm
It saddens me that people still find blogs a way to vent, even when information is not researched appropriately. A second grader comes home to tell his/her parent something they don't fully understand and a flurry of emails on this blog transpire.
Question? Why haven't you all contacted your legislators and complained about the lack of accountability and poor performance of their work by holding up a budget for CA? It is so easy to attack teachers as they aren't able to opinionate their true feelings, however are expected to be 'FUN,' accountable as well as work for menial pay.
Wow! Pleasanton citizen's are going to acquire a real snobbiness to their status here instead of the Community of Character we were recognized for a few years back. Teaching your children manner's is something we have lost in our society, better they learn to be disrespectful and name callers, this is what their parents are modeling to them anyway.