Embracing Type II fun For Teachers

With the incredibly rapid move to online learning teachers have scrambled. FAST. It’s been tough, it’s been stressful, there’s been quite a few late nights. And in the process we’ve all got a little taste of what mountain climbers call TYPE II fun.

Here are the two types of fun.


That’s Type I fun. Fun to plan, fun to do, but just kind of ok to think about after. It’s probably what you usually think of when you think of fun. A trip to the beach, dinner with friends, going out to a movie. That kind of thing.


That’s Type II fun. Fun to plan, Terrifying and difficult while you’re doing it, and fantastic to relive afterwards. Although it might not be what is traditionally thought of as fun, you probably already enjoy some type II activities. Hiking, jogging, gardening might be considered “tame” versions of Type II fun. Climbing Everest is probably on the extreme version.

I love Type II Fun

I’ve always really “enjoyed” type II fun. Marathons, 24 hour adventure racing, rock climbing (this is particularly type II fun for me, since I’m scared of heights). I’ve never really been able to articulate why I enjoy those kinds of things. But as I watch others have their Type II fun it becomes clearer.

Teacher Type II Fun

I have been very lucky to witness, up close, so many teachers experiencing Type II fun recently. A colleague of mine had their version of type II fun when they made a video for the first time. I know exactly how it feels to be terrified of getting in front of a camera and so I also know how exhilarating it is to overcome that fear and do it anyway.

Another colleague recently did their first live stream of a Kahoot! to 105 students. A live stream is a high wire act at the best of times but with that many students, running a Kahoot! and simultaneously going over the solutions in their OneNote, this was death-defying. That lesson was classic Type II fun. It was fun to plan, Terrifying to execute, and he was riding high for the rest of the day.

Another worked long into the night creating the perfect resource for students and other staff to use in their online learning. The next day, they looked tired but content. I don’t recommend doing that on the regular, but it is clear that they’d had their Type II fun.

All around me, more than ever before, teachers are getting their taste of Type II fun. Almost daily Type II fun is smacking us all in the face. And I’m excited about that for a simple reason.

Once you know about Type II Fun…

…something very strange happens. It starts to look a lot like Type I fun.

One comment

  1. Joel, your discussion of fun has me thinking about Seymour Papert’s idea of hard fun.

    “It is expressed in many different ways, all of which all boil down to the conclusion that everyone likes hard challenging things to do. But they have to be the right things matched to the individual and to the culture of the times. These rapidly changing times challenge educators to find areas of work that are hard in the right way: they must connect with the kids and also with the areas of knowledge, skills and (don’t let us forget) ethic adults will need for the future world.”

    Thinking about such ‘fun’ is it fair to say their is always a level of agency and autonomy involved. The choice to use Kahoot! or the choice to run a marathon. I wonder what opportunities can be provided for students at the moment to engage in Type II fun?

    On a side note, your discussion of fear and fun reminded me of Kevin Parker discussing his intent to put himself in challenging situations.

    Also on: Read Write Collect

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