Friday, November 23, 2007

Pleasure and Learning--The Umberto Verison

Certainly, learning can be made an erotic, highly pleasurable activity. Now, that a teach should be incapable of revealing this, that his job should virtually consist of showing how unpleasant, sad, dull and unerotic learning is--to me, this is an incredible achievement. But it is an achievement that certainly has its raison d'etre. We need to know why our society considers it so important to show that learning is something sad; maybe it's because of the number of people who are excluded from it. Imagine what it would be like if people were crazy about learning the way they are about sex. They would knock each other over in a rush to get into school.
Michel Foucault

When I read this morning, I smiled, and thought about in many ways this is what I want learning to be for Umberto. I take great pleasure in my own learning. I want Umberto to feel this pleasure. Right now he does. He's so excited to learn new things. You can see him quiver sometimes. I love coming home from school or work and having him rush up to me, thrilled at a new bug discovery. Right now he's passionate and open to knowledge. I watched this being sucked from him in school. He started to tell us that he hated books. He said he was stupid. He knew that he was getting left out of something. There was even a moment when I started to worry that he wasn't smart. I'm ashamed to say that now but I started to get anxious because the school was anxious. I got caught up in the game.

Now we're out, and last year, I got caught up again. He was behind, he wasn't reading, he wasn't doing such and such. I realized at some point that this anxiety was driving us both nuts. I wasn't stopping to see that he got pleasure from learning new things. I wasn't helping him to discover that pleasure in greater ways. I wasn't sharing with him my own pleasure in learning.

This year, I've opened up to him. I've learned to let go of my own inhibitions, and to let my own joy out. I've started to laugh more, and to let his joy infect me as I let mine infect him. If I'm getting frustrated or impatience, I let go of our plans and follow something new. No we don't always get through my lesson plans but it's okay because we always learn something and we usually have fun doing it. I remember once thinking that fun wasn't what it was all about. And then I realized that this is exactly what it should be about. We've divided the world into fun and unfun things. Why? Why does it have to be this way? I have FUN at school and I have FUN learning. Why shouldn't Umberto? Why does he have to learn that the world is about work that is not fun? And why in the hell do we think fun is such a bad thing anyway?

I say yes to pleasure! Onward to fun!

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