Hard Fun

Hard Fun

You’ll find the future where people are having the most fun.

-Steven Johnson

I’ve been a bit obsessed these days with Steven Johnson and I can’t get the idea of the adjacent possible out of my mind. I’m slow reading his book, Where Good Ideas Come From, savoring his detail of the history of innovation.

And he has a new book out about play: Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World–now I know what I want for Christmas!!


As I consider the parallels between of innovation and education, the big ideas from constructionists seem to be at the intersection of these two fields. Guy Claxton says it best when he answers the question, “when is learning?-when there is disappointment or surprise.” Then the concept of hard fun really becomes foundational when we consider how our classrooms become the petri dish of ideas for the future.

So this notion of challenging and stimulating engagement of a task or project, what I am calling hard fun, has some requirements:

  1. Time in order to think, plan and execute ideas–this seems almost implicit.
  2. Complexity so that students can call upon their prior knowledge and develop interdisciplinary skills.
  3. Intensity so that one gets lost in the idea and has to grapple with the challenges that present themselves in the learning.
  4. Connection, not just between subject areas but with people, as students look to each other and experts for collaboration.
  5. Relevancy, which is not only obvious for the students but also encapsulates the concept of shareability, in that this project or idea can be consumed by a larger audience.

I think if we approach learning more in this way, with a more playful approach to exploring curiosities, innovations might naturally emerge. And I know Steven Johnson would argue that curiosity, not necessity, is the mother of invention.




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Judy Imamudeen

Judy Imamudeen

Developing learners as leaders is my joy! As a highly qualified International Baccaluearate (IB) teacher and educational leader, I am committed and passionate about executing its framework and empowering students in creating a future world that works for everyone.

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