Connect Joy to Learning

I  rewrote Seth Godin’s blog entry for today: Organizing for joy. I hope he doesn’t mind. The word “joy” made it irresistible.

Traditional schools, particularly large-scale high schools, are organized for efficiency. Or consistency. But not joy.

Traditional schools crank it out. Students show up. They pay attention. They get grades and awards to measure success.

The problem with this mindset is that as you approach the asymptote of maximum efficiency, there’s not a lot of room left for improvement. Making another 4.0 GPA student, offering another AP class or teacher-proof curriculum isn’t going to boost learning a whole lot.

Worse, the nature of the work is inherently un-remarkable. If you fear individuality, if you teach students like cogs, if you have to put it all in a rule book and a grade book, then the chances of an amazing education are really quite low.

These schools have students who will try to cut corners and cheat, instead of motivated learners eager to pursue knowledge.

The alternative, it seems, is to organize for joy. These are the schools that give their students the freedom (and yes, the expectation) that they will create, connect and surprise. These are the schools that embrace students who make a difference, as opposed to searching for a grade to assign or a rule in the handbook that was violated.


  1. You beat me to it! I read Seth’s post this morning and was going to use this very idea on mine. Now I’ll likely just reference yours.

    Beautiful piece. Thank you.

  2. admin:

    Hi Mark:
    Sorry about that! I really enjoy your blog btw. Adding it now to the blogroll Should have done it after my first visit. All the best in followship, fellowship and leadership.
    – Josie

  3. Yes, the next era will move forward with those who Connect Joy to Learning! Thanks for the post and the inspiration Josie! I’m also a huge fan of Seth Godin, and I also thought after reading your excellent post, of Alfred Whitehead’s call to “Romance the Joy of Learning.”

    You are so correct in showing how we’ve lost joy! Interestingly joy, and laughter and fun impact brainpower for just what schools say they are about, yet we have a way to go to support joy as a permanent resident in our schools.

    Your school and community looks wonderful and I’d love to learn more about how you weave joy and delight into the quality results you get!

    Currently, I am Chief Academic Officer for an exciting series on Learning Renewal K-12 at PBS, and joy will be deeply ingrained at the center of all learning events:-)
    Love your notion of, to “organizing for joy.”

    Yes! Learners and faculty need freedom, and inspiration to create, connect and surprise. Again, I think of CS Lewis’ notion of Surprised by Joy!

    I wish you well with the lofty journey you facilitate for the entire learning community. We just did a conference for 150 faculty and leaders K-12 and many of them showed similar examples of joy missing where it could add stars of a lifetime!

    So glad you are sharing results in blogs, and glad to have found you! Stay blessed! Ellen

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