“Fun” vs “Joy”

The founder of Reggio, Loris Mallaguzzi said, “Nothing Without Joy.”

He also said that words are living things.  Once the words came out from our mouth, they die. So, he didn’t leave us his words. He was intensive about it. But, he left this sentence, “Nothing Without Joy.”


In these 3 words, one word carries his message, “Joy.”

Why not “Fun” !?  Why not “Happy” !?

Why did he choose “Joy”???

It’s a such popular sentence in Reggio, so probably, a lot of educators thought about it and wrote about it.

I have been thinking about it too.

For a long, long time…

Actually, English speakers know this difference without awareness.

The word, “Fun,” I hear many times like this.

“It was fun!”

“He is funny!”

But, I never hear like,

“I did fun!”

“Oh, I am funny!”

So, from this example, I feel that the “fun” exists outside of our body.  Somebody do something, and our brain reacts it with our emotion or thinking.  Thus, we say, “It was fun.”  Also, when I focus on our brain function, many times, “Fun” increases our brain hormone, such as Dopamine, Adrenalin, etc.  They are very strong and very addictive.

“Fun Activity,”

“Fun Class,”

“Fun Teacher,”

I’m sure that children like it.  I’m sure that children are excited by it.  And, I’m sure that children are addicted it.

I think this is exactly what Mallaguzzi wanted to avoid in his education.

When the word “Fun” comes into the education, often times, the experience becomes passive.

If our image of children are “Children are passive learners,” this word choice, “Fun,” is great. It can really describe what this school believes and what this teacher believes.

But, Reggio believes, “Children are active learners.”

Thus, not “fun,” but we do support “Joy.”

Moreover, he said,  “Nothing without joy.”

It’s only 3 words.

They are very simple words.

But, what he left for us is huge.


??? What’s “Joy” ???

I want you to think about it and I would like to hear your answer.  Then, I’m happy to talk about my thinking too♪

Have fun♪

Teacher Mabo

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