The Joy and Celebration of Learning

  • by: Aryeh Wohl

First Thoughts – The Illusion

Neal Gabler (2002), the social critic, notes that for decades observers have been saying that Americans live in the world of their own illusions, “built to their specifications and designs to replace the disorder and discomfort of the unmanaged reality people were once sentenced to.” In his analysis of the illusion of entertainment in current films, Gabler highlights some of the thin plots, the lame jokes, the blah of characterization, and the shock and bombast of special effects. He believes that many film technologists use aesthetic sleight of hand techniques that substitute volume, speed, size and other neurological overloads for the more traditional satisfactions of entertainment, allowing viewers to expend a minimal amount of emotional energy. The ‘trick bag’ gives these films an illusion of entertainment, a form of entertainment that looks and sounds like conventional entertainment, but isn’t. Moviegoers may be seeing inter-space flight but they are looking at computer images. As an example, Gabler suggests the French bistro that was built in Disney World’s Epcot Center. It may look like Paris, but it is not, for something vital is missing. What is, is not, and what is not, is. The facade, the patina of ritual is there, fooling viewers into believing that what they see is the real thing. Push the right buttons, send the correct code, and, voila!, you have the illusion of flight, Paris, whatever.

Instead of character development, or full bodied jokes in films, viewers get a set of signals, a kind of a code, that advises them how to respond without having to expend the effort, however minimal, that real entertainment demands. You see, you hear the signal and you respond as if you were getting the real thing. You are given the form and you provide the content. In most good entertainment the audience responds emotionally, psychologically, intellectually, and even physically. Mental effort is expended; there’s a level of engagement which determines the extent to which we enjoy it.

I see great similarities between education and entertainment. Successful education has elements of entertainment (‘edutainment’) built in. In most activities, the more mental effort employed, the more there is a possibility that learning can take place. Using only the codes and rituals of learning – frontal lectures, tests, grades, time slots, texts, homework, etc. – gives us only the illusion of learning, like the illusion of entertainment. You see the signals: children lugging heavy books, sitting in rows in classrooms, teachers performing frontal instruction, worksheets handed out and filled in, homework assignments given, schools administering standardized tests, and giving grades. We see the illusion of learning without the challenge, curiosity, discovery or meaningful learning. Kids remember for the test and, at most, forget what they were taught a few weeks or months later. Adults marvel at the amount of learning they had in elementary school yet remember so little of it. The illusion is maintained with embarrassment. Schools function without the true involvement of their students, they’re engaged in a series of code games, they’ve learned the ritual, the material flows around the room, but they are not engaged in learning – they are engaged in the illusion of learning.

Sizer (1973, p. 18) speaks of education as being primarily quantitative (his stress) not qualitative. “One attends school, rather than learns something, One collects the symbols, diplomats, and degrees, and these are evidence not only of accomplishment but of virtue. One becomes a Good Man by attending a school and a university. Attendance is the heart of the matter.” It seems to Sizer that just being there gives you the illusion of scholarship. Current research notes that children are getting higher standardized test scores but learning less. The mantra heard for the last hundred years continues: “School is boring”, “I learn nothing in school”, “We waste our time filling out worksheets”, “The teacher never tells me what to do”, “I feel frustrated and angry”, “All we do is fill out workbooks and memorize for tests”. If we visit the school we find the illusion of education. Teachers announce the page to be read, round-robin style; but at most three people in a class of 30 are listening: the reader, the teacher (sometimes) and the next student in line. The rest who are not listening are either looking ahead, day-dreaming, or engaging in other non-print related activities. Round-robin reading thus leads to a lot of wasted time (Stahl and Kuhn, 2002). It may sound like proper reading but it is not. Explanations are given en masse, one or two questions are asked, and it is assumed that all was understood. Even the kids know that many of their classmates do not get it. The tragedy is greater when the teacher knows it as well, yet tells the class to do the homework based on the “illusion” of understanding the issues, or of how to solve the problem.

We hear something that may be close to teaching/learning, it seems to be learning, but like on TV, we hear a dialogue that’s close to being funny, it’s “like a joke”, because it is in the form of a joke, but there are ingredients missing. The classroom looks like a learning environment, but it is not. We go to the movies – the loud music, the surround sound, the quick cut, the action; you are supposed to respond, even though the action did not engage you. You should have learnt the material but there was no real engagement in class. The stuff was not relevant, exciting, enjoyable, challenging, mind-boggling. Students remember and regurgitate for the test. If you get high grades on the tests, one assumes that learning has taken place. The grades become more important than the actual knowledge. But this illusion lasts only until the test is over since most students forget what they were taught after the test. Some parents and educators are sophisticated enough to know that what you’re seeing is an illusion but with such small budgets for education, their response is always “What else can we do?”.

Why struggle to find a better way to help your children learn when you can get the same effect – children who get the grades, but have not been really educated. Education is endangered because an entire generation has grown up with the illusion of education and scarcely knows what education really is. Education, in fact, has become a relic found in very few schools. Walking out of most schools is like walking out of a movie: You get the surround-sound, the flashy, fast-paced pictures, the massive, mind boggling scenes, and yet you leave with nothing but a feeling of – I came, I saw, I have been ‘whelmed’. Two minutes later, nothing is left.

The problem is exacerbated since most people are satisfied with the illusion of education. Better a less demanding program than one that will make it difficult for our students to progress; far less demanding, less challenging, thus easier to get the diploma – and that is what counts. It also allows for more access to more children – even those who come without any background information. Is that the future we are looking for, a future where education is created by people who seemingly don’t think about engagement, for people who don’t even know what engagement in education is all about?

Preparing for a Celebration

For many, life is difficult, filled with problems, aggravation and frustration. For others, life brings pleasure, happiness, and contentment. For all, the optimist and his counterpart, there are more or less satisfying days, sunny, smiling days, and painful and disappointing ones. To make it easier for us to manage with the roller coaster, society offers holidays; special, personal, happy days that allow us to forget and cope with life’s tensions. When we are relaxed and happy many good things can happen to us. We become healthier, enjoy our families and friends, are open to new ideas, and are even willing to meet new challenges. These events include religious holidays with family interactions, weddings, birthdays, confirmations, bar/bat-mitzvahs, etc., which we plan, prepare, and look forward to. We work towards successful, festive, celebrations. They offer us the satisfaction and the strength to continue to face life. We are able to remember and even re-live those precious days because the enjoyment gives us a stronger memory trace of the events. Thus we view videos, look at photographs, activate the visual frames of our imagery and vicariously return and enjoy the past. A celebration is not ‘dated’; it is re-usable, timeless.

Celebrations play an important part in helping us slide through life. Celebrations also help us learn; if we enjoy the learning activity, a better memory trace of the information is assured, and the more we are motivated to continue to learn. The reverse is also true. If we dislike a subject, or are turned off by a teacher for whatever reason, little or no leaning occurs. In fact, celebration – enjoyment – is the underpinning of successful learning. It motivates learners and extends memory. Most important, it assists in breaking ‘the illusion of education’ because it affects the ‘core’ of the learner. We will argue that the closer the learning gets to the emotional, the stronger the self-motivation to learn, the deeper the student is in medias res – in the middle of the action – the better the results of that learning. Getting to the “heart of the matter” – the key to successful learning – requires touching a learner’s emotions.

Sizer (1973, p. 40) discusses three major purposes of education: “Power – the maximum use of a person’s intellect and physical faculties for personal and corporate needs; Agency – the personal style and self-control that allows him to act in both socially acceptable and personally meaningful ways; and Joy – the fruit of discipline, of faith, and of commitment. The human animal laughs, and wonders, and, in common with some other mammals, he is capable of love.” It is that joy that I am suggesting.

In order for the student to want to learn, he must overcome the fear of learning or other emotional obstacles. To assist the learner, teachers must develop a comfortable yet challenging environment that will assist in motivating, stimulating and encouraging and spark some emotional interest in the learner. He will then feel comfortable in the learning situation, build on prior knowledge and experience, grow and involve himself in authentic learning.

My thesis is that if educators consciously apply celebration, joy, excitement, interest, to a learning situation, students will become engaged, initiate and maintain ongoing pleasurable learning. Most teachers will then be able to ensure success. I believe that celebration is one of the most underused ‘tools’ in the classroom, and I will develop the concept that a class without joy, with no spirit, is deadly and damaging to learning. A teacher who does not consider the emotional-enjoyment factors, who does not plan to ‘catch’ the learners’ fancy, is not doing his job. He is teaching the curriculum but not the children.

Genius and Celebration

Armstrong (1998) presents the concept of genius as “giving birth to one’s joy”. He believes that very child has the kernels of genius within him and that it is the job of the instructor to create an atmosphere of learning that will encourage the joy to spread and allow the hidden genius in every child to sprout, become alive and engage in learning. Teachers need to deal with the development of ‘genius’; they have to awaken the child – to “give birth to the joy of learning”, to bring ‘genius’ back to the class.

I concur with Armstrong who feels that children’s excitement of life, their bright shining eyes, the quick movements of their arms and legs – a kind of ‘dance of life’ – is gradually being destroyed by educators who are more worried about curriculum standards, discipline management, politics, funding, bureaucracy, and, of course, the old bugaboo – assessment. Charles Silverman’s famous accusation of “Murder in the Classroom” still rides high: students’ ideas, interests, love of discovery are being destroyed because of lackluster, joyless teaching. The crucial foundation stones of learning – joy and celebration – are missing. Thus, there is an illusion of study, the outer patina of instruction, with weak, few, or, worse, no results.

Armstrong presents us with the basic qualities that assist one in being a ‘genius’. The stronger each quality, the more passion incorporated in its manifestation, the more talent and positive qualities used when learning. Armstrong wisely apologizes for using such a bombastic term as ‘genius’; he is aware that “pedagogical name calling” is overused, and excuses his usage of the term by arguing that if he had used any other label he would not get the interest of his readership as he has by talking about ‘genius’. I agree and feel that his clever combination of the twelve elements of genius should be looked at by educators. I will attempt to explain his twelve elements using the Jewish day school curricula metaphor, with both Lemudai Kodesh and Lemudai Chachmah in mind.

1 – Curiosity

Young children are naturally curious, inquisitive, and eager to know. They always ask questions because their brains are essentially curious. They ask about things up to about the second grade. Once in the classroom the teacher does not have sufficient time, patience, or the knowledge to answer all questions and so the student stops asking because his curiosity has been squelched. What is most interesting is that many educators do not see that their students are curious; they view questions as a waste of time, irrelevant, silly, poor behavior, and perhaps even rudeness or “chutzpah”. The questions keep the teacher off-balance and may hold back the flow of an important lesson – so they think. Rather than using the children’s inquiring mind as a springboard toward developing extended motivation and interest, teachers push many questions aside. Having done this, it is ironic that if there are a few children who stubbornly continue to ask questions, they receive all of the teacher’s positive attention. Allington (1983) has noted that teachers work differently with good students than with poorer ones. Most poor students rarely get the attention and the ‘ear’ they need in class.

Teachers should regard curiosity as natural, positive, satisfying, and healthy. It is in fact this curiosity that is intrinsic, within the child, which is the key to exciting and enjoyable learning. Educators must remember that children have the insatiable attitude that they need to know everything about everything.

In Lemudai Kodesh, there is no better way to entice learners than with the broad set of curiosities that abound in Jewish life and learning: The miracles, the wisdom and wonder of our sages, the beauty of nature, the awe of Hakadosh Baruch Ho, all lend themselves to building curiosity in kids. This requires thinking, planning, a spark of creativity and a smile from the teacher, and curiosity is kindled.

2 – Playfulness

Children love to play; what a wonderful thing – they learn so much through playing. When left to play, they rebuild the world, pretend to be here and there, soldiers and doctors, the Golem, wise rabbis, King David, monsters, animals, heroes. This satisfies their needs, helps solve their emotional conflicts, assists them to develop and test hypotheses about the world and search for answers. They learn about social roles, and prepare to become adults. Wordsworth so aptly wrote: “The child is the father of the man”; a happy childhood, usually a happy man.

Froebel (1887), the father of the kindergarten, noted that “play is the highest level of child development”, it is the business of joy, freedom and contentment, peace with the world. Teachers sometimes mistakenly view play and games as a waste of time. We must recognize that play is an important component in the development of the student. It can be a very appropriate way for learning for it brings with it entertainment, pleasure, and satisfaction. What better way to understand the travels of Avrahm, Yitzchcak and Yaakov than with simulation and role playing, with reflective thinking and writing, with the visual arts centers that offer map drawing of the journeys, the building of dioramas, video, music centers that sing and dance with the beautiful songs of the Psalms, pantomime, etc. All these deal with serious issues, with dignity but with playful learning. Play is a serious business and must not be left out of the classroom.

3 – Imagination

Many kids have a great sense of imagination. They can imagine, see all sorts of colors, shapes, forms, pictures, images, movements. When they tell stories, they can close their eyes and see themselves as a part of the action, living the action or even changing it. Some teachers view imagination as something negative – “The kid’s a day dreamer!” – rather than seeing it as a potential source of cognitive strength, power that can be used when the children speak or write or create works of art or participate in dialogues about specific issues in life.

Just consider the possible extensions and understandings of the Tenach, Mishnah and Gemora, past history, T’filah, and literature with an imagination that has been harnessed by both the teacher and student. New worlds can be explored and old ones better understood. Eyes light up and hidden secrets are found. How dull and dry the world would be without the seasonings of one’s imagination.

4 – Creativity

The possessor of creativity has the power to build something from nothing or for very little; the foresight to connect pieces of ideas and put them together into new solutions for old problems. Creativity is the ability to do new things, to look at something in a different way, to make connections between different things, to see things that have been missed by others. Children’s drawings, constructions, presentations, observations, and unique expressions are all part of creativity. They must be inspired and not squelched. Educators see the need for creativity but usually try to focus that creativity and control it. Only in special programs are gifted children allowed to be creative. Some educators allow those who have completed the work to do something creative, or try to limit creativity to set times each day (e.g. the fourth period), but putting it in a ‘box’ constrains and constricts students. Creativity in the classroom can and does make for exciting and enjoyable learning.

Imagine asking kids to plan and write a new T’filah for Israel, a refuah shelaimah, finding different ways to be a Baal Chesed, what can be done to help the poor or people in hospitals, explain an issue in the Talmud, find creative solutions as suggested by Rashi, Ramban, other Meforshim.

5 – Wonder

There is magic in the way kids look at the world. You can see it in the sparkle in their eyes, hear it in the descriptions they give, watch it in the free-flowing body movements they make when trying to describe their emotions and feelings. The astonishment that children have about the world, the awe of its beauty and wonders, all have a great impact on students. Some of this appears incidentally in the classroom. The payoff will be in remembering the encounter with the mysteries of life. Learning about the creation of the world, the miracles in our history, the continued miracle of our survival, the wisdom of the rabbis, looking through the microscope for the first time, learning about how birds fly, understanding how people deal with pain and disappointment, learning how to laugh, all have the elements of wonder. Teachers must be prepared to find and use the wonder to get emotional and satisfying responses from the children.

6 – Wisdom

Many learners can store knowledge. The better the memory system, the more information stored. This in itself does not promise wisdom – knowing things is not the same as being able to use, synthesize and analyze what is stored and then applying it wisely. One develops wisdom as one wonders about the world. Watching, thinking, asking questions, planning, discovering, letting things “bake”, allowing time for introspection and reflection, all give the learner wisdom. Experience adds perspective and patience, not all school tasks must be done under the watchful ticking of a stopwatch, pressurized by unrealistic time constraints that demand “quick-time” performance. There are deeper truths that need be understood and harnessed. Children learn many things from the way they live, where they live, with whom they live. Many have heard that “the child is wise beyond his years.”. This should motivate us to listen to children, to pay attention to some of that wisdom since they have much to add and much to learn. It is their innate “wisdom” that requires our ears and concentration.

What interpretations to a pasuk do the students give? How do they see the conflict between Yaakov and Esau? Do they agree with Bet Shamai or Bet Hillel? Can they suggest or compose a new bracha? Listening to children is as important as having them listen to us. How to listen is a skill they can only learn if the adults around them model it. Listening calls for time, patience, respect and a willingness to learn on the part of both speaker and listener.

7- Inventiveness

Some of us have forgotten the charm and freshness of youth. We are so busy filling the jug that we ignore its “newness, freshness, daring outlook”. We are so busy dealing with all of the heavy loads of life that we sometimes exclude a new approach or solution. Some of us use the old ways so much that we have lost the desire and ability to enjoy a new direction, to solve issues differently, to be willing to take risks. Many adults have difficulty taking a chance, thinking outside the box; but if we never make a mistake, we have nothing to learn. Inventiveness, a new look at old things, adds electricity, a rainbow of flavors, to the world. Have we given up on the hands-on quality that children bring to learning, that they naturally invent? When they come up with new and funny ideas or uses for sayings, invent all kind of “crazy” machines like a homework-doer, or a whole-word machine, or a composition-writer or a hamburger space ship, do we push them aside? Those new, special, extraordinary, ‘Rube Goldberg’ type devices add to engaged learning.

Schools try to put kids into ‘screwed-down’ seats that fit the system to make it easier for the staff. But we rarely make it easier for the kids to open their minds and allow inventive, creative thinking. When was the last time you read De Bono about creative thinking in the classroom? When was the last time you taught a lesson differently? Do you teach the same way every day, in a way that you yourself as a pupil could not handle? What different way is there to review the Chumash, to learn a new chapter of Mishnah, to explore a dilemma in Halacha, to review Parshat Hashavua, to get the kids to really pray, to learn about kavannah? How can you discuss hidur mitzvah from an inventive point of view?

Since we try to place children in square holes, we sometimes stop them from developing newly invented concepts. We always have to complete the curriculum so we never have enough time to play around and make up new things. Children should be encouraged to contribute their fancies, their imaginations, and inventiveness to the classroom, as should you, their teacher. New solutions to old problems make the day exciting, relevant and interesting to all who participate.

8 – Vitality

Learning is not silent but full of verve and rigor. We want to ‘feel’ and to hear the clamber and clatter of learning, the shouts of joy, even the moans of failure, the support of teachers and other students. The sounds of awareness, the rumble of the new learning experience, the ‘wow’ of a new idea, the blast of a different solution are part of the symphony of learning. The ‘noises’ of teaching and learning should be heard. That music is sweet to all who understand the need of vitality in the classroom. It is not disturbing to those who understand what is happening in the classroom. Brains are being shaken, thoughts that are new and maybe even old are moving quickly everywhere. That is good for all, teacher and pupils. The feedback is loud, the study is intense and contains a vitality that is the very life of learning and growth. If we only could hear those sounds more often.

When we pass a classroom and hear only the voice of the teacher, we certainly have only teaching going on. The rumble of voices in chevruta in the Beit Hamidrash, the songs of t’filah, the thunder of “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh…during Mincha, the attempt at questioning a point, the excited “ahaaa!” of understanding, are the true, good noises of learning.

The process of education should service the learner, which is why we need spontaneity, animation, vibrancy, and vigor; we need to be awakened and responsive to the environment. Classes must be actively engaged each and every moment with the positive quality of vitality to spark and motivate children to search for answers.

9 -Sensitivity

Life is not limited to a petri dish where all the elements can be controlled. Historically we have tried to maintain a “civilized “attitude to life. We try to understand and control our responses so that we can be sure that we are the “Captain of our ship, the master of our soul”. The glorification of facing life with control and courage, perhaps suffering in silence, berates and degrades people who show emotions. We must always control ourselves; we must not show our emotions. Yet one of the greatest gifts man has is his ability to empathize, to show sensitivity, to understand another’s pain, suffering and joy. Kids are open, not yet cluttered with ‘social masks’. Kids are straight, ask for an opinion and you get it ‘straight from the hip’, with no pretenses. Kids are open, which gives them the ability to accept everything before they are contaminated by adult prejudices. As adults, they develop shields to protect and mask their true feelings.

It is their simplicity and sensitivity that are wonderful, allowing children to be more deeply affected by art, music, dance, and literature. This sensitivity gives the learner humaneness, a feeling of “Kol Yisroel aravim zeh lazeh”, the link to the Jewish past and to Israel’s future. It helps them to be moved by history and historical events and excited about the discoveries of science. Although the adult pushes aside the human factor, wary of sensitivity, the child has the potential for getting a fuller, richer picture and understanding and becoming a better person. Doing good deeds, giving tzdakah, Gimilat chesed, hachnasat orchim and many more of the building blocks of Judaism receive their foundations in the sensitivity one learns at school.

10 – Flexibility

Growing up presupposes a mature, solid, set approach to doing things. We are adults and are expected to be able to plan a modus operandi and stick to it. Rarely is there time or place for changes or flexibility. Do it the way the boss wants, the way we have been doing it for years, just do it. How wonderful it would be if we could tackle a problem in a new way, with flexibility. Adults seem to be involved in doing things their way and not in other, possibly better, ways.

One way to do things is to be able to change in midstream- to move from fantasy to reality, to use the inside world in facing the outside world. When we cannot cope with the problems we face, we need to be learn to be more flexible to be able to move through elements with more than one point of view. Psychologists sell and reap great rewards by trying to undo ‘lock-step’, ‘only me’ living, and attempt to convince us of the need for flexibility in almost every life issue. We need many perceptions to assist us in looking at knowledge, to search for new and forgotten applications, from different points of view. How much easier it would be to accept the various opinions of our Rabbis if we were taught flexibility. Kids who have that trait are not only lucky but also benefit from divergent, open thinking.

11 – Humor

The spice of interaction, the cushion of critique, the turn of a phrase that emits a smile, humor adds a dimension to learning that is of great importance. We all agree that this world sometimes becomes intolerable and luckily we hold out in spite of the pain because of the humor in it. Humor eases pain, makes interactions move smoothly and heals many differences. Humor releases tensions, enlivens a deadly lecturer, breaks the ice, softens fear. It’s kind of a magic potion that helps us cope and make it through most problems. It breaks the tension, gives us a funny angle, a new perspective, a broader view of life. It’s the “sugar that helps the medicine go down”.

Humor can be found in the presentation of materials, in learning about them, in practicing skills and remembering information, in reporting and even debating the content, and in applying and creating new ideas from the information studied. There is much to be said about learners who are amused in the classroom since this makes learning enjoyable and fun – an element missing in many classes. There are many books available that share the wonderful humor of the Jewish people. Should they not be part of our curriculum? The laughter in those texts reflects the bitterness and joy of our history, holidays, family feuds, legends, attitudes toward life, how we dealt with adversary, etc. We would be cheating our young if we did not give them a glimpse of that humor. Laughter heals; we need more of it in our classes and in our lives. Learning is a serious thing and so is humor. Learning infused with humor works. Herbert (1991) has shown that humor assists learning on different levels. “It is time,” says Armstrong, “that educators should give humor more than just a fool’s place in the curriculum”.

One note of caution is necessary. Humor that is cutting, insulting, sarcastic, hurtful, and painful; verbal barbs to ‘put someone down’, have no place in our classroom or in the repertoire of our learners’ conversations. We need to work with what Given (2002, p. 33) calls “compassionate humor,” to ease tension caused by a poor match between learner and instructor. Used as a teaching tool, humor helps lower barriers and relaxes all involved.

12 – Joy

How blessed is one whose learning gives him joy and a feeling of intense satisfaction. How many of our own classes do we remember that left us with that feeling? After having asked each and every graduate class that I have ever taught, close to 5,000 students, in my career, I found that most people remembered only one or two of their teachers who held classes filled with joy. How tragic.

A child comes to class wanting to learn, the natural desire to know. But because of scripted or highly structured classes, or lackluster teachers with absolutely no desire or ability to teach, who themselves have few or none of the characteristics of the ‘genius’, the child does not learn. Teachers, who squelch joy, destroy the desire to learn, and make schools into prisons must either change their ways or leave education. We can no longer tolerate such massive destruction of learning. The end result then must be a well-paved path to allow the ‘flavoring of genius’ to reach each student, to line the classrooms with joy – the secrets that support the priming of self-motivation, engagement, memory, and ease the application of material learned. Perhaps with these elements, learning l’shmah will become a reality.

Armstrong relates a curiosity: While doing a computer search of the literature in ERIC between 1982 and 1996, he found more than 7,300 listings on learning disability and only two on “joy in/of learning”. No one studied the “joy of learning” – perhaps because no one thought it was a necessity or because there was none to be found.

How tragic that learning has become, in many cases, tedium to bear, pass the test, and forget the information. The joy of learning should bring children, nay all learners, back to enjoying the adventure of exploring knowledge, maintaining curiosity, motivating creativity, opening minds and dissipating any educational illusions. The potential of a rainbow of activities that teachers can and must offer: an enriched learning system that stresses the beauty and excitement of challenge and innovation, rather than boredom and dry memory.

References

Allington, R.L. (1983). The reading instruction provided readers of differing reading abilities. Elementary School Journal, 83 (5), 548-559.

Armstrong, T. (1998). Awakening genius in the classroom. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Froebel, F. (1887). The Education of Man.(Translated by W.N. Hailmann). New York, London: D. Appleton.

Gabler, N. (2002). Life the movie: How entertainment conquered reality. New York: Knopf.

Given, B.K. (2002). Teaching to the brain’s natural learning systems. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Herbert, P.J. (1991). Humor in the classroom: Theories, functions, and guidelines. ERIC Document ED336769.

Sizer, T.R. (1973). Places for learning, places for joy; Speculations on American school reform. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press.

Stahl, S.A. and Kuhn, M.R. (2002). Making it sound like language: Developing fluency. The Reading Teacher, 55 (6), 582-584.

Prof. Aryeh Wohl was the Educational Director of the Center for Educational Technology (CET-MATACH) in Israel for thirty years. He is the Senior Editor and writer responsible for the Open University of Israel courses on Literacy, taught at Ben Gurion and Tel Aviv University, was an international consultant for the Jewish Agency specializing in language and teaching methodology, has and continues to teach at major universities in the United States, written and/or produced more than fifty learning programs from emergent literacy through high school, presented at major international conferences, continues to publish professional articles world wide, as well as consult for Jewish schools. He is semi-retired and is presently the Chairperson of the Division of Humanities at Talpiot Teachers College.

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