funI want to share a story. The names have been changed to protect the identity of all parties involved.  But, the details are accurate.

There was this project that kids were working on, designing a modern day castle.  The kids researched the castles of medieval times and discovered their purpose, design aspects, and it was quite an interesting study.  There was this one student, we’ll call him George, who was set on researching the White House security.  He became obsessed comparing the security measures in place in the White House with Medieval Times.  The original goal of the project? It was to determine how structures can be utilized for protection.  George?  He took the project to another level.  He easily answered the question, but took it further… to a place I hadn’t even considered.  Then, George asked if he could make a model for his presentation.  For fun.  A scale model, with working cardboard doors, and an area and perimeter that matched the floor plan he had drawn.

In the middle of this project, the intercom beeped….

“George met his reading goal this quarter, please send him to the popsicle party, he hasn’t shown up yet.”

George piped up from across the room… “I’d rather keep working. I’m having fun.”

Who was I to force a kid to eat a popsicle? George stayed. To do work. Work that I hadn’t even assigned really.

As a teacher, it makes my heart swell to see a kid engaged like that. Until later that day…..

I was quickly reminded how “fun” is often perceived by others in schools. I was stopped by a colleague to ask why he never came for the popsicle, and I was so excited about his enthusiasm, I said, “Well, George was busy with his project.”

And that’s when it was said.  “Oh, well, I guess since you guys don’t do real work in your class, you just have fun, it’s better than popsicles to some kids.”

I wish I was making this up. I wish, as a teacher, I’d had the courage to respond with some eloquent response about project based learning.  I wish I’d stuck up for George and his passion for modern day castles. But, I think my mouth just fell open.  That perception that if kids are having FUN they must not be learning?  It’s wrong.

Learning.  The good kind.  The meaty kind. The kind where your passions come alive and your dreams are born?

That is totally better than popsicles.