ALTHOUGH A FEW PEOPLE teach because it is the only way they can earn a living while engaging in their true love-like painting or carrying on research-most teachers teach because it gives them the deepest sort of satisfaction. And this is how it should be. It is difficult to imagine effective teachers who do not have an abiding fascination with their subjects, who do not love being among students, and who do not gain fulfillment from nourishing others' minds and lives. Most people who teach also do so in part because it involves plain good fun laughter, humor, and wit. Teaching, that is, ought to bring and give pleasure of many kinds; it should be play as well as work. The classroom should be a place for light hearts as well as serious minds. It should be a place where knowledge is fastened to desire and where the passion for understanding is satisfied.
This may seem like heresy to classroom puritans, but it must be recognized that while the purpose of all learning and instruction is deadly serious, the paths to the mind, like those to the heart, are many and varied, and pleasure is one of the most direct. Who has not known students who learn because for some mysterious reason of their own they find a subject captivating? When a class masters a difficult subject, should not a teacher's spirits soar? And should not pride, admiration, and praise be among students' rewards for learning?
If students and their teachers fail to experience feelings of joy, happiness, even occasional giddiness as they learn and develop together, then something is wrong.
At its very best, teaching is a form of intellectual play in which students are invited to join. Play for the purpose of learning asks students to bring to their learning the same traits of mind and spirit called for by all genuine play- delight in chance and the unexpected, concentration, inventiveness. Those who interpret play in the classroom-whether it takes the form of games, acting, debate, or contests-as "the absence of seriousness" are mistaken. As we know from watching young children playing games, their grave attention is in pursuit of fun. So, too, with the obverse: a teacher's sheer playfulness with students can be in pursuit of knowledge. Through joking, the surprises of sharp wit, or role playing, fun is in service to the broader aims of learning. After all, most laughter arises from recognition of truth. A teacher's laughter often means even more-an ease with a subject and mastery of it; and as theorists of comedy have pointed out, the variant of pleasure that we know as humor implies, indeed creates, openness to the possibilities of new understanding through fresh arrangements of words, ideas, and images.
The pleasure of teaching, then, is reciprocal: as teachers feel pleasure by giving it, students gain pleasure and return it by pleasing their teachers. Yet a teacher's greatest pleasure always arises from the students' achievements- from, say, their conquest of previously great intellectual challenges or from their distinctive and fresh combinations of ideas. Some teachers will become joyful as they witness their students gaining a skill; others will be delighted by their students' imagination. In all such cases, teachers feel pleasure because through their own gift of self they have enabled others to achieve something fresh, to enlarge their understanding, to be edified as well as instructed.
All of which suggests a cautionary note: that the pleasure of teaching and learning must always be directed at raising understanding and aspiration and should never come at another's expense; it must be in service to appreciation, not depreciation, and it should never be cynical. These are not injunctions easily met, for the taste of humor is often sweet when ridiculing and sarcastic. Yet laughter must never cost a student's self-respect; nor should it diminish the intrinsic integrity of something be it a situation in the past, or a work of art, or a scholar's researches. An even more serious enemy to understanding is cynicism, a denial of wonder and play. Condemning our lesser ways without acknowledging our nobler nature, cynicism denies the kinds of distinctions that give knowledge and choice meaning; it implicitly suppresses analysis and exploration out of a know-it-all fatalism; worst of all, it implies that all human motives are base. Such attitudes are usually fatal to learning.
1.Not all teaching and learning can be interesting or fun; gaining and conveying knowledge often involves drudgery and, because difficult, is frequently exhausting. No good teachers fail to acknowledge that this is so, nor do they fail to make known uncomplainingly their own hard work. Teachers cannot expect to attract their students to learning through pleasure alone, because
2.learning is laborious and demanding. But as every teacher knows, it is hard work applied to mastery of something that often attracts some students by the special pleasure and satisfaction it brings them.