Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hard Fun

I was a recipient of a recent email by Dr. Rae Niles* in which she referenced Seymour Papert's concept of "Hard Fun".  The phrase whacked me right between the eyes.  Monday through Friday, last week, I was engaged in "hard fun."

On Monday and Tuesday I was mentoring two Challenge Based Learning teams - one from Toledo Central Catholic High School and the other from LeGrande (IL) Highlands Middle School. Both groups were straining like mad to get from "big ideas" to interdisciplinary action plans for projects they could launch with their students immediately.  This was a hard task made no easier by the Geography-Science-Language Arts and Math-Science-Language Arts groupings of the teachers.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I engaged with challenge teams at Mercy.  We tried to wrestle big ideas like global citizenship, right to life, and Reimagining Detroit into challenges for our students.  This was literally exhausting.  After one period our principal, Carolyn Witte,  said that the experience gave her a headache by thinking so hard!

Yes, this is hard.  But for me, absolutely fun and intellectually challenging.  I like this as much as anything I do professionally, and will be on the lookout for as much "hard fun" as I can find and the immeasurable value it has for education at our school.

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*Rae currently is national manager professional development manager for Apple.
Flickr CC photo by Peter Gerdes

1 comment:

Mrs. Morrow said...

Love this! And agree with you whole-heartedly. My "Yes, and..." comment to your blog post is the overwhelming benefits of having this "hard fun" WITH our students IN our classrooms. That is what Challenge Based Learning is all about! What we experienced for two days in Dallas is what our students should be experiencing in their educational environments everyday. I know the students whose lives are touched by you, get to do just that. Cheers to "hard fun!"

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