Boredom is educational

Boring lessons prepare children for real life, say British teachers. The Independent reports:

Pupils needed to get used to the idea that life wasn’t a constant “Disney ride”, said delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers annual conference yesterday. “I don’t have the energy to do all-singing all-dancing lessons every day, five-days-a-week, each term,” supply maths teacher Zoe Fail explained, to loud cheers. “Children are not bored enough. They are over stimulated. Being bored encourages thinking skills and imaginative play.”

I suspect Barry Williams, a lecturer at Hertford Regional College in Cambridgeshire, had his tongue in his cheek, when he defended his dullness:

“When they say to me: ‘Mr Williams, that girl is looking out of the window staring at a tree,’ I say: ‘Do they not recognise the advanced stages of Zen Buddhism which I have brought into my lessons?’ I am in fact producing adults who will be able to watch party political broadcasts.”

Nobody gets through school without learning how to endure boredom.

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  1. I’ve often said that if my calling were to be an entertainer, I’d be in Hollywood or Las Vegas or on Broadway, making much better money than I do here.

    That said, I do make an effort to make the material interesting – I try to relate it to daily life, I try to have appropriate but funny anecdotes to share. But the problem is, it’s impossible for a human being to compete with text-messaging or video games or television.I think the problem is that kids get overstimulated, and their expectations get set that life is going to be one big giant movie, and when it’s not like that, they blame their teachers for being “boring.”

    I do think we shouldn’t have to try to compete; I don’t want to be a human Interactive DVD. My momma didn’t raise me to be a Muppet.

    it’s interesting but when I have older students – my generation or earlier – in class they compliment me on how interesting I make the material and how much I care about it. A lot of the 18 to 20 year olds just complain that it’s “boring” and there’s “too much material.”

    Also, sometimes I think boredom is more the fault of the person who claims to be bored than it is of the person who is trying to engage them. If some of the college kids could just drop the “I’m too cool for the room” mentality, they’d be a lot happier and a lot more engaged.

  2. I would have thought that the first response to boredom would be to make sure the lesson is relevant and moving at a pace reasonable for the student in question. To address boredom by simply adding entertainment value seems to me as unethical as simply ignoring the problem.

  3. Indigo Warrior says:

    Different people have different learning styles, and maturity is a big factor too. The six year olds who are constantly bored are obviously there too soon in their lives. Nothing good comes of locking children into a classroom and torturing them into “learning” something they will forget a second later.

  4. BadaBing says:

    I question that there are different learning styles. In university I found there was only one way to learn Latin and Greek in the early stages, and that was by rote memory and repetition. There is only one way to learn reading, whole language and other fads notwithstanding, and that is by reading. The demagogues of education are always coming up with “new” and more exciting methods of teaching, but the best teachers and profs I’ve ever had were the ones that knew their subjects. Boring people will always be bored in the classroom or out of the classroom, and it’s not the teacher’s job to entertain them. That said, I think it’s a tremendous boon if the class is fun, and if the teacher’s having fun, the students are likely to have fun, too.

  5. I’m excited that I found this blog because we are discussing this issue in one of my classes “Schools in American Society”. We talk about Student-Center Classrooms vs Teacher-Center Classrooms. I agree with the person above. Teacher-Center is old school way of teaching but it’s the kind of teaching that research supports is the best way of teaching. The new Student-Centered way of teaching is so the student doesn’t get “bored” but really like mentioned before, students don’t come to school for amusment, they’re suppose to come to school to learn. We live in this Country that gives us the greatest gift of education, and people are always trying to reform our education when we were already doing a pretty good job.