Music educator Emile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865-1950) claimed that joy is the most powerful of all mental stimuli.
It’s an interesting contention, especially considering the many non-joyful stories I hear from educators and parents. Stories about children crying over tests. Children with so much homework that there’s little time for anything else, let alone joy, in their lives. Children discouraged by schooling as early as kindergarten. Children stressed out, burned out, acting out, and dropping out. Oh yes, and popping antidepressants at an astonishing and alarming rate.
Sadly, none of that surprises me anymore. After all, what part of today’s emphasis on accountability and academics screams joy? How much joy comes from prepping for test after test? How much joy do we witness from students bent over desks and filling in bubbles? How much joy is experienced by students whose success, along with their teacher’s, depends on how well they do on those endless tests?
Granted, there isn’t a whole lot of research to back up Dalcroze’s contention – because there aren’t many researchers who would have considered it a worthy topic. But there is some, including a recent study by two Finnish educators, which points to several sources of joy in the classroom. They include:
active, engaged efforts from the children;...