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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL John Dewey “It’s Fun” Is Not Enough Dewey believed that when people are engaged in learning something that interests them and is related to their experi- ence, the process of learning is enjoyable. However, he also said that enjoyment on its own is not enough to make an experience educational. Teachers can use Dewey’s criteria to make sure the experiences they plan for children are not only fun but also build children’s learning. For example, I once visited a classroom where children were having a make-your-own-sundae celebration. There was much excitement in the room. Children told me they could choose frozen yogurt or ice cream, sprinkles or M&Ms, and chocolate syrup or strawberries. The teacher did a survey at the end of the day asking children which flavor was their favorite. She had carefully prepared a poster. It said “Our Favorite Ice Cream!” She had cut out ice-cream cones in brown, white, and pink. The children chose cones and put their names on them. When the teacher called their names, they placed their cones next to the word chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. As Zachary taped his brown cone to the chart, he smiled and said, “My favorite is Cherry Garcia.” Later I asked the teacher how she thought the activity had gone. Like so many teachers I speak with, she said, “The chil- dren really seemed to enjoy it.” When I asked why she had planned this particular activity, she smiled and said, “I knew they would love it!” Dewey would say this teacher had not done enough plan- ning for this activity. It’s unclear whether the children had expressed an interest in ice cream or how the activity built on any prior information they had. What did they already know about ice cream? What were they curious about? It’s also hard to see how the activity supported children’s development or helped them learn new skills. The documentation of the 27 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL