323. Fun

“Fun” is a little word. It’s nowhere near as big as “responsibility” or “accountability.” But I think it’s much more important than some people seem to think. I guess I have a broader definition of the word that allows me to make the statement, “Learning is fun,” without much reservation. In my mind, ignorance is not bliss, and the less ignorant we are, the better off we are.
It has always bothered me a little when people have praised teachers for “making learning fun.” To me, that’s like praising someone for making water wet. Learning already is fun. Not every little bit of it is fun, but if the whole thing were a drag, people wouldn’t do it so much. Some masochists might stay with it. Maybe some martyrs would heroically keep up the good fight. And some pragmatists would learn so that they could accomplish their goals. The average person, though, would go do something else.
But everybody’s doing it. Even the strictest of hedonists learn. The process of learning may be what’s fun, or maybe it’s the results. Or both. Maybe learning makes it so you can solve a problem, get a job, accomplish a goal. By my expanded definition, it’s all right if some parts of learning aren’t as enjoyable as other parts; the whole thing is still fun. I don’t enjoy the work involved in preparing and eating artichokes, but I love artichokes.
I’ve known people who were really annoyed by my emphasis on fun. They’ve thought I’ve been robbing children of opportunities for successful lives.
“Children,” they’ve said, “can’t expect everything to be fun. Life is tough, and they might as well learn it while they’re young.” I’ve always been bothered by that mindset. In my mind, I’ve told such people that life is to be enjoyed, and if children don’t learn that when they’re young, they could grow up to be as numb as the people who get bothered by fun. But I didn’t say it out loud.
Now, I don’t think we’re as far apart as I used to think we were. I think of the adults who get bothered by fun as people who were once children, and learned some things the hard way. They care about their children, and worry that their children will suffer later for the fun they’re having now. They want to make sure that doesn’t happen.
I’ve recently started reading again. I don’t quite understand why I went so long without reading, but I spontaneously started again. I’ve written so much that I’ve started to see authors as my peers, and I want to hear what’s on their minds. They have some good things to say, and they aren’t all going to come say these things to me in person. The main thing is, I read because I want to. It’s fun.

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