Did you catch OSU’s Lynn Dierking on Science Friday today? If not, here’s the link.

What is the natural relationship between leisure and learning? Does a quantifiable difference exist at all? I find that my leisure activities always entail some kind of learning, and I think that’s the norm. The things we do for fun involve seeking experiences, furthering interests and relationships, developing skills and solving problems. Even when we sleep, our brains process information.

As a child—years before I moved to Oregon—I often played the much-beloved Oregon Trail computer game (primarily version 1.2). There was no separation between the “fun” parts of the game and the “educational” parts. The educational content formed the mechanics and narrative of the game, and it was great. I wasn’t “having fun and learning” (a perennial edutainment cliché) because even that phrase implies a natural distinction between the two.

The drive to learn is inherent in human development. Even when a child moans about his homework, it isn’t truly the knowledge he resists—though he himself may think it the case—but the context (or lack of it).

It isn’t enough to make learning fun. At the FCL Lab, and in OSU’s broader FCL Science and Math Education programs, we strive to remind our audiences and ourselves how much fun learning already is.