Let them be bored! For real?
Joanne Jacobs recently posted some data about boredom levels among high school students. She closed the post with a quote from a principal in Hawaii who, when confronted with the stats that 50% of the students in his school liked school, asked the questions – “What about the rest of the kids? What are those kids doing?” (data from Teaching Now – News Flash: High School Students Are Bored.)
Those are the kinds of questions that help to create challenging, engaging schools. I was a bit … displaced … to read some of the comments to her post. For me they represent a huge disconnect between adults (some) and students (most), steeped in a bitter brew. Or maybe those who feel that way are bored in their own lives (not challenged) and don’t feel that anyone deserves a non-boring life. Or maybe… I don’t know. But they certainly don’t represent the ‘it takes a village’ attitude we need for raising good kids. I don’t see caring. I don’t see hope.
My query is, just how well do the comments represent what the majority of people think about learning in high school?
- Do most adults in a given school community (parents, in particular) think that we should just make the kids sit and listen because that’s the best way to learn?
- Do people really think that high school is a place where we should be learning how to sit still for long periods of time?
- Can it be true that people think boredom is necessary?
- Are educators working against the grain of community ideals?
Yay for Topher who took the time to point out the details of the issue, as presented in the article upon which the post was based. I love how he concludes his comment:
…it’s also important to note that students in middle and high schools, while far from being mature adults, are not dullards or wild animals who need to be tamed and broken in. It’s disheartening to see how quickly people tend to forget what it’s like to be in a lecture-only classroom and to actually perpetuate the cycle of (usually – some lecture-only teachers are great) bad teaching.
I strive to make my classroom an active place of learning, one in which the students enjoy being. I know that it doesn’t always happen, especially when juggling a number of different courses a term. The thing is, I talk to my students and am always working towards engagement. I can not imagine teaching any other way. I can not imagine cultivating a sense of boredom as a life lesson in how to learn. I just can’t.
***The image was taken from a strange little blog post about observational data re: the stereotypes of asian and white students collected while the author was bored in class:
I’m in class for four hours a day, which means I am bored to the brink of insanity 20 hours a week. I’m amazed I’m not bald from pulling my hair out from the roots. There’s nothing else to do but to analyze the people in my classes.