What’s to Like about School?

Did you like school? (Or, if you’re a student now, do you?)

I’m reading Daniel T. Willingham’s Why Don’t Students Like School? It’s totally readable and very interesting, and I’ll post a review when I’m done. (I’ve also joined a reading group to discuss it, over at Dangerously Irrelevant; if you’ve been wanting to pick this book up, a book club might give you the kick in the pants you need.)

When I posted the title of the book on my Facebook page, one of my Facebook acquaintances replied directly to the author’s question, writing,

“Same reason we hate boring movies … no engaging, nothing to relate with. For starters …”

Now, Willingham’s responses are quite a bit more subtle. He’s a cognitive scientist, and his explanations of why we like to think but find it difficult are intriguing. But my acquaintance’s response got me thinking.

When it came to school, I WAS engaged. I DID relate to the material, whether it was geometric proofs or chemical reactions or novels. But I didn’t like gym, because I’d didn’t like running around, and I had trouble in a few academic areas – history seemed like a dry list of facts about politics, and the ultimate goal of studying physics seemed to be understanding how a carburator works. (I’m now well aware that neither of these things is true, but school was capable of reducing them to that.)

Did you like school? How about the classroom, specifically – if you liked learning in school, why? If you didn’t, why not, and what could have made it more enjoyable? What about your children – how do they feel about it? Have they told you why, or do you have an inkling?