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I think that has happened to most teachers, a bored student, but what may not have happened to many is for that student to have the guts to tell you. I know I was incredibly bored throughout many classes in my school days but I never did tell a teacher since I figured nothing good would come of it.
And I may have been right because my gut reaction the moment I was told was to get frustrated. How can you be bored in my room? We do so many exciting things! And yet, I bite my tongue, nod, and go home with a head full of questions.
The art of being bored: how to be more productive by doing nothing
I have a classroom full of noise, ideas, and engagement. It is something I work incredibly hard for and I am very very proud of and yet, it can also be boring. There are times when the base needs to be built for our further exploration and I have to talk. It gets better every year but still; but yes I can be boring. So these thoughts follow me home and I ask my husband what I should he do since he acutely suffered from school boredom. Maybe you do everything you can and that child needs to step up too.
Perhaps we can only engage and excite until a certain point and then the student has to invest as well. Perhaps, we are not the only ones with control in our classroom? So I turn to you; what do we do when students are bored? After we have changed the curriculum, the approach and the task?
What do we do when a student-centered learning environment is not enough? Do we dare tell the student that they too have to invest? That they have to make an effort to be interested or else school will be infinitely boring no matter what we do? Do we dare put some of the responsibility for school engagement back on their shoulders? Or is that taking the easy way out? Like you, I work hard to create a classroom full of engagement. I am not a lecturing kind of teacher.
Are you bored yet? (feat. clairo)
But there is no getting around the fact that sometimes I have to talk to give needed information. I haven't figured out a way around it. I flat out tell kids, "We have to do the boring stuff so we can get to the fun stuff". I don't know if it works, but at least the kids know why I'm doing it and what we will be using the information for. So, yes. I do think students need to take some blame for being bored. They need to engage themselves and prepare for the long haul.
They need stamina—the ability to keep their mind on the task at hand even when it's "boring". I know students in our school that say they are "bored" just because they do not know how to describe the many reasons they are disengaged — it is usually very complex.
Excellent point, with some students it is definitely outside factors influencing their engagement, but when we remove that, then what? I also wonder what we can do when even the child does not know why they are not engaged and therefore says the "I'm bored…" With other students I have heard the statement when it has been a way to get get away from something they didn't understand or something they deemed too difficult.
But what about the kid that just would rather lean back and let the learning happen?
The daily illini
I am a home schooling mom and not a very creative one at that, but when I have done all that I can or know how to do I believe that my children have to step up and try to find something interesting in the lesson. If they are not willing or cannot for whatever reason then I think it is time to move on. I am not saying give up on that student, continuing to try and get them engaged is our job, but sometimes they are just not ready or interested.
I feel learning is a two way street and you can only make the basic boring facts but so exciting. In life we have to learn how to push through the boring stuff to get to the fun. And I want to thank you for your blog, you have given me much to think about as a home schooler. I think a large part of the problem is kids don't know how to actively engage themselves.
Our society tends to focus on content delivery and kids are a major consumer. Television, the internet, even video games are pretty passive.
What to do if you don't like school
We learn to be dependent on other people entertaining us instead of learning to entertain ourselves. Maybe we need to figure out how to teach students how to do so in a classroom environment? Since engagement is the topic of my dissertation, it's a subject I'm very interested in. This blog supplies a lot of "food for thought", so thanks for that!
I understand and agree with many of the thoughts posted here, but would also like to make the observation that we rarely hear "I'm bored" in Kindergarten or Grade 1. How we change things when students reach about Grade 3 is part of it, of course, but these younger students get a heavy dose of success and accomplishment on a nearly daily basis, as there are so many new skills they are learning.
Older students have to wait so much longer to see evidence of their growth. Everyone here is raising some excellent points! I totally concur with everything here.
Yes we need to do our part as educators and yes students do need to step up and decide when they are going to engage. Will we get every student in our rooms to engage all day every day? No, so where is the cut off? I also tell my students that at some point, they are going to be bored. But, I also let them know that they are still responsible for learning.
Kids and boredom
I can't be "on" all the time, but I still expect them to learn. I am really enjoying this post and the comment thread. A couple of points come to mind. I also agree with Will Chamberlain who has shared online some really exciting lessons from his classroom.
How can children in these settings get bored? When my own children can't help putting on my parent hat try to make me responsible for their entertainment needs, I have often used this response: "Well, there's lots of work to be done around the house so if you tell me you're bored, that means you are looking for work to do. They enjoy the attention and the house gets cleaned. On the other hand, if we've had some very boring days at home eg.
In the classroom, I usually try to weave the rationale piece into my lessons by deliberately asking, Why is it useful to know about fractions? Does spelling even matter? I'm not saying kids don't ever get bored in my class, but these are some of the ways I try to reduce boredom and increase purposefulness. A love of reading also helps because how can you ever be bored when surrounded by books? A great post and interesting comments! I'd add that not necessary or desirable for all students to like or enjoy every moment. I was a good student but I remember hating labs in high school science classes.
I preferred to stay comfortable in my desk and have information presented to me to which I sometimes I sometimes paid attention and sometimes chose to ignore while I doodled or daydreamed. Labs forced me to be active and engaged. Even though I didn't like them, they were a better way to learn than just reading the manual. It's our responsibility to provide a learning environment that's as engaging and varied as possible but it's ultimately the students' responsibility to learn. Like many other things, it's a matter of letting go. I loved your post!
Boredom – why we get bored and what it can mean
The dialogue between you and your husband reveals many a discussion that I have had with myself. I think there is a happy medium between teacher and student and your husband has so sensitively stated this. The student has to meet the teacher half way! I would wonder what the student meant though by being bored?!?!? Class wasn't fun or wasn't interesting or wasn't engaging. Class can't always be fun but it can be interesting engaging! There are both boring teachers and boring students.
When students tell you they are bored can we blame the students as well?
Yes, it is up to teachers to find engaging ways to involve their students in their learning. Chuck out he lecture notes, the textbooks and the worksheets and get them involved in authentic tasks. Not that it is easy to present all learning in a way that all 30 kids will enjoy. On the other hand, many children are the product of an upbringing that has not given them the opportunity to create their own ways of entertaining themselves. No independence, no creativity allowed without being given parent organised stimuli, no time to think for themselves and explore the world as they grew up.
Through no fault of their own, they grow up to be boring students who find nothing engaging unless its an entertainment extravaganza. Students have as much responsibility to use their creativity and spark their own interest as we do. My own children are never bored, at home or school, because they find something interesting in everything they encounter.
On the rare occasion they find that impossible, they find a way to engage in their own way in the topic if the teacher doesn't grab them. Maybe this is what we need to teach the bored or boring student to do instead of switching off when there's no action in the first minute of the lesson. Or give them the opportunity to show us how they would learn best. Is every part of your day exciting?