There’s a term that has come into vogue lately that I find a little troubling–“The Edutainer.”
If you’re unfamiliar with this word, it’s combining “educator” with “entertainer.” The idea is that a teacher performs daily for their classes in such a way that the students are entertained.
Not just engaged, but actually entertained as though they were watching a show.
Yes, on the surface that sounds wonderful, but I think most of us realize that there are very few people from any walk of life who can perform daily for eight hours a day in such a way that children/teenagers are both learning and laughing nonstop.
Furthermore, I think it’s very unfair to make teachers feel as though they are somehow less effective if they are not constantly entertaining their students.
I’ve been teaching long enough to know that certain “buzzwords” come and go. Usually these buzzwords are developed by a person or company looking to make a buck. I’ve heard of professional development, workshops, and even college courses pushing “edutainment.”
Now, if we’re being honest, I’ve been told that I’m an “edutainer.” I’ve never quite figured out if that’s meant as a compliment or an accusation, by the way. However, I know myself well enough to realize that my “edutainment” is just part of my personality. When I’m in front of a group of kids, I get silly. I can’t help it. I like to keep things light. I like to joke around. I like to make people smile.
This is fine for me, but I would never dream of forcing other people to adopt this methodology if it’s not part of their personality. At the end of the day, teachers must teach in a manner that makes them comfortable. Obviously, no matter what, lessons must be engaging, but to ask a teacher to put on a “show” is not really fair, especially if that’s not a component of their persona. I’ve personally had some really funny teachers in my life, but I’ve also had very serious teachers as well. I learned a great deal from both because–most importantly–they were effective teachers. Let’s not lose sight of what were really trying to achieve. First and foremost, our students should be learning.
It is worth noting, however, that teachers can still incorporate “edutainment” in their classroom even if they are not specifically the “edutainer.” There are plenty of educational websites and learning programs that deliver fun, entertaining content to supplement a teacher’s lessons. I would encourage teachers to look into those things because I also believe the days of asking students to listen to lecture while taking notes is over. Our students are accustomed to bouncing from one thing to the next, and I would venture that the teachers operate like that in their personal lives as well. There’s an old saying that teachers should switch up their activities during a lesson every fifteen minutes. “Edutainment” programs would be one helpful way to achieve this.
At the end of the day, I would encourage teachers to accept who they are as people. If a teacher is not an “edutainer,” that’s totally okay. No teacher should ever feel less effective if they are not comfortable with a style that contradicts their persona. As long as students are treated respectfully, with kindness, and provided consistently engaging lessons, I think the kids will be just fine.
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