“Hard fun!”- Guided Math is a Space to Push Thinking!

Posted on June 25, 2010. Filed under: Classroom environment, Elementary math | Tags: , , |


Papert (1996) tells the story of an exchange between two kindergarteners while exiting the computer lab.  One student was exiting with their class and the other was entering. 

        “[Upon exiting the child waiting to enter asked] “What was it like?” The friend replied, “It was   fun.”    Then paused  and added: “It was really hard.”  The relation between “fun” and “hard” may need some interpretation.  Did this mean “it was fun in spite of being hard” or “it was fun because it was hard”?  The teacher who heard the tone of the conversation and knew the children had no doubt.  The child meant it was “fun” because it was “hard.”  Since then I have listened to children with an ear sensitized by this experience and have come to know that the concept of hard fun is widely present in children’s thinking (Cited in Andrews & Trafton, 2002).”

This passage provokes me to think about the type of “hard fun” which we engage children in during math class.  Hard fun is academically rigorous tasks that engage the whole child.  When students are having “hard fun” both their hands and their minds are engaged. When students are having “hard fun” they are doing rich mathematical tasks that push them to reach and learn.  When students are having “hard fun” they laugh, they communicate and they struggle through the difficult parts hanging onto all the scaffolds we set up.

Andrews, A. & Trafton, P. (2002) Little Kids-Powerful Problem Solvers. NH: Heinemann

Papert, S. 1996. The Connect Family: Bridging the Digital Generation Gap. Atlanta: Longstreet.

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