Two members of the pleasureteam, Anne and Karen, are vacationing in Florida. After a blissful morning at the beach, we headed out for the shops of Old Melbourne. Although far from our college, we keep stumbling over ideas for enhancing our classes by adding the elements of pleasure. As we headed into YAPA, our favorite store, we thought about exactly why we always enjoy visiting that particular business. And then we began to wonder how many of the elements that make YAPA such a pleasurable experience might be employed as teaching strategies. Here’s out list:
- YAPA is a delight for the senses. As our eyes wandered around the shop from floor to ceiling, we were pleased by the colors and textures…soft, loud, shiny, rough, dense, delicate. The place smells great, too.
- YAPA is one surprise after another. Robin and her assistant Maria could simply pile all the bracelets here, the pillows there, the decorative items somewhere else. Instead, we always find ourselves on a treasure hunt, where a gorgeous necklace hangs from a pair of antlers and the one-of-a-kind garments are scattered in wardrobes, on antique mannequins, and spilling out of drawers.
- A lot of the shop’s wares embody wit and humor. Karen was tempted by a magnet urging “Embrace Messy Hair,” while Anne cackled her way through a rack of greeting cards (most of which featured text that we probably shouldn’t repeat here!)
- The ladies of YAPA make everyone feel part of the group. We encountered teens and octogenarians, and all seemed to locate something charming. Even though we hadn’t been in for months, Maria remembered us and seemed genuinely glad to see us again.
- The place is so crammed with so many treasures that ratcheting up our cool factor is an achievable challenge.
- The reasonable prices allow us to own something of value. During a trip to YAPA two years ago, a friend persuaded Karen to try on, and subsequently buy, a bracelet that was a bit more flamboyant than her usual style. This find, subsequently dubbed “the magic bracelet,” continues to garner compliments and start interesting conversations every time it’s worn.
So, how does this translate to our teaching lives?
- Could we make our classroom more inviting by livening up the models, the posters, the walls, the seating, the auditory environment?
- Instead of tossing out our information in predictable piles and categories, could we lead students to uncover the treasures by structuring our material more thoughtfully?
- Could we add a little more humor or wit?
- Can we make sure that everyone in the class feels welcome and valued?
- Can we help each student move a step up the knowledge ladder in our discipline by presenting achievable challenges?
- Can we make sure that students leave with something of value….something that will help them engage others and feel good about themselves?
Anne and Karen apologize to any readers who were dismayed by this shopping-focused entry. We promise to compensate by urging Pat to come up with something based on his considerable knowledge of sports!
—Anne and Karen
Have you had out-of-school experiences that suggested ways to make learning a pleasure for you and your students? We would like to hear about them!