The day after Labor Day has always been a fun one for me. Though I think as kids we are socialized to believe we ought not to like school (i.e. “Aw man, school is back.”) I always enjoyed being in a classroom… as long as I was stimulated and learning something.
When school captivated me, the clock on the wall disappeared and the sense of Csíkszentmihályi’s flow theory really rang true (even though I could never have identified the concept when I was 12). I mean who doesn’t like learning?
When it’s meaningful, when it’s purposeful, when it’s relevant and engaging, learning is top shelf stuff. And I firmly believe that this is as true today as it was back when I was sporting corduroy jeans and a mullet. (Okay, the jeans are hyperbole. 🙂 ) Point is, when people are enjoying what they are doing they will do a better job of doing it. Conversely, when people resent what they are being asked to do, they will often underperform and seek out the quickest way to librate themselves from the task.
The day after Labor Day is always a time to reflect on this very simple notion. Engagement matters. It matters to students, it matters to teachers, it matters to school site staff. People who find joy and meaning and relevance and excitement in the work will do a better job at their jobs this year.
And those that do not, will not. Effort can’t be legistlated. Successful schooling is a battle of hearts and minds.
Make your play your work and your work your play.
-Phil Jackson, The Zen Master