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Learning should be fun shouldn’t it?


Since I started working in training and development over 12 years ago I have always believed that the most powerful learning is also great fun. I have backed this up by always delivering and designing courses, workshops and materials that are both fun and entertaining with great results. I am now looking to take this a step further by finding research that proves that the best learning is fun.
So far I have discovered a worrying trend all the research that has been created seems to be really quite dull. So please help, does anyone have any research or information to prove the fact learning should be fun.
Andy Waterworth

10 Responses

  1. Yes, learning should be fun
    I have been reviewing the literature for my degree course. There is INDIRECT evidence from the research into adult learning to support the view that learning should be fun. For example, the need for frequent variations in teaching/learning activity to take account of our maximum attention span of about 20 minutes. Also, the need to actively involve learners in their learning has been proved to result in deeper learning and less forgetting. The enthusiasm of the teacher also results in better attention and retention.

    Adoption of these and other proven techniques results in a more enjoyable and rewarding learning experience, and more ‘fun’. I am not aware of DIRECT research or information to prove the fact learning should be fun.

  2. You probably have it already !!
    Hi Andy. Given that you have already seen great results yourself , I would say why look for ‘the proof’ somewhere else ? Go with what works for you ! Seems to me you already have what you’re loooking for ! I agree learning is best when its fun, I don’t need to se that written down somewhere or have someone tell me ! I can see it everyday in the training sessions we run, and no doubt you can to ! Keep it fun, I’ve found that people relax, respond to learnng better when they are having fun with a subject ( even a complicated one ).

    Continued luck to you !

  3. Fun at Work

    I have come across two resources you may be interested in. A book called How to make work fun, I think published by Gower? A video from Video Arts called Fish.


  4. Who dictates what "fun" is?
    If it can be accepted that the opposite of “fun” is “dull” then nobody would prescribe to the notion that learning or training should be dull. Therefore all trainers and, indeed, all learners would support your statement that learning should be fun. However, what might be accepted as being fun to one individual may well be seen as hell to another, role-playing, for example. Until you define what you mean by “fun”, I suspect that you will continue to be disappointed in your search for evidence but I further suspect that the theory of Accelerated Learning will provide you with most of that which you seek. Search the internet for articles by, or concerning, Howard Gardner (the seven intelligences) or Colin Rose (Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century). Good hunting

  5. Look at the bigger picture: there is loads of evidence…
    Just looking at management literature will probably restrict the amount of evidence in this field. Increased learning and fun is quite widely documented in psychology books (children development is an obvious one, a lot of the extended study are about adult development)and also in philosophy (Nietzch – the Uberman is first and foremost a player)…
    Also if you read some of the self-help/self-development literature, there is a lot you can find about the relationship between larning, have fun and devlop meaning for oneself. The three are quite closely interlinked…
    These are just a few leads, I am sure that if thinking laterally more sources could be found.

  6. You MUST be joking!
    Training should be fun!
    I want to enjoy myself.
    If I have NOT learnt something new by the end of the training I’ve not done as well as I would like.
    My approach is ‘chaotic’ in that I ‘go with the flow’. Few role-plays (there is so much drama in real life). I use people’s real stories, exhaustion, and excellence as the ‘secret’ ingredient.
    Jokes illustrate key points – related to the contract – Team Building, Negotiations, Support and Supervision, Assertiveness, Management or Presentation Skills – whatever.

    I work (freelance) in {SERIOUS} organisations such as the Home Office, The Foreign Office, Metropolitan Police, Nat West Bank, etc.

    The impact of a joke that makes a point (without being offensive) will often help reinforce the message. It is not necessary to be solemn in order to be serious!

    Trainers can be uninspired and uninspiring.
    Unaware that communication is a two way process, they regurgitate their material, not noticing if it was NOT a good communication.

    I believe that, beyond the rarefied atmosphere of the training room, under pressure people will revert to habit unless motivated to do something different.
    Dull and lifeless training does not motivate, and – if the message isn’t getting across – it doesn’t even inform!

    The best training informs the head, it lifts the spirits, it fills the guts with fire and the heart with hope and, if needed, gives the courage to make difference.
    If training makes no difference, what’s the point?
    Training that has no point, makes no difference and is no fun?
    It’s enough to make you weep!

    Michael Mallows:
    Author of “Peace of Mind is a Piece of Cake” and “The Power to Use NLP”

    For teachers, parents, managers, trainers and others who are interested or intrigued by learning or teaching:

    For people involved in Creating Convincing Characters:

  7. The best learning is fun
    I agree with Andy Madden (comment 1 April 2001) – Accelerated Learning is the methodology that underpins the idea that learning should be fun.

    Read ‘Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century’ by Colin Rose and Malcolm Nicholl, published by Piatkus, ISBN 0-7499-1761-X. There are also several websites; look at the following for starters:

  8. Accelerated Learning
    Interesting that Colin Rose – author of Accelerated Learning – shoul be mentioned.
    I am currently running an Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) for the Met. Police on behalf of the Industrial Society (I’m an Associate Advisor with IndSoc).
    We provide all delegates with a copy of ‘Master it Faster’ published by IndSoc and written by the afore mentioned Mr Rose.

    Although I do not ‘work through’ the book, I use it as a reference source, and refer to it constantly as a back-up for the exercises, ‘home-work’ and presentations of the programme (4 consecutive days).

    It is an excellent book, very accessible and abudant in useful ideas and empowering techniques for learning / training / teaching / living.

    Participants on the course are would-be police officers who have failed the PIRT (Police Initial Recruitment Test).
    This pilot programme, I’ve run one of three programmes so far, provides an opportunity for people to understand learning (styles and strategies), to understand something about the way the brain has evolved and how it functions, to recognise the ‘gestalt’ of self doubt, self recrimination, self sabotaging attitudes, assumptions and actions that hinder succesful outcomes.
    I use Accelerated Learning, NLP, TA and many other models to give people a way of reconnecting with their power and potential.
    Colin Rose’s work, among others, certainly adds something rich and wonderful to the process.


  9. Learning Should Be Fun (Shouldn’t It?)
    Hi Andy

    If you want to conduct research that proves that learning should be fun, then I suggest you need to construct an operational definition of “fun” against which learning can be tested. Now, in my book, even Professor Albert Dottle (aka Deryck Guyler in Michael Bentine’s “It’s a Square World”) in 1950’s TV didn’t quite achieve this! Nor will anyone else. So, as you and I both know, and as the other contributors to your excellent question have remarked, it’s a question of what you feel. Does it feel like fun to you and the other learners? Then you’ve succeeded! Congratulations!

    PS I also think that from Knotty Ash the message is the same.

  10. Humour research

    Only just read your question – hence the late response. I have a book called Humor Works (HRD Press – ISBN 0-87425-40-0)which ‘explores the connections between humor and creativity, teamwork, risk-taking, and effective communication’. Whilst not explicitly about training, it has anecdotes aplenty. It also references Humor – The International Journal of Humor Research from Walter de Gruyter, Inc., 200 Sawmill Road, Hawthorne, NY 10532. Don’t know what it’s like …


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