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We Should Be Curious About Student Boredom

By James E Ryan on May 9, 2016 4:04 PM
Article originally appeared in "Education Week"

Anecdotal evidence suggests, and surveys strongly confirm, that most high school kids, in most schools, spend a great deal of their time in school feeling bored.  The potential causes of in-school boredom are legion and intertwined:  adolescence, and the real and feigned ennui that attends this developmental stage; mobile phones and the infinite competing distractions they contain; some topics that are hard to make interesting; pressure to cover material quickly; and some teachers who are a bit on the dry side.  There are also, importantly, exceptions as well as variations.  As I remember well, some classes and teachers capture the attention and passion of students.   And what some students find interesting, others find boring. 

For a long time I was blasé about boredom.  Like most parents, I regularly ask my kids about their days in school.  When they responded that it was boring, which happened with increased frequency as they aged, I poked around for some brighter news but mostly shrugged my shoulders.  I knew that they generally liked school, and I expected that high school would be at least somewhat boring.  So I routinely told my older boys to do their work, that work was not always interesting, and that what seemed boring at first might eventually become interesting.  They rolled their eyes, as if to say:  you don't get it.  They also regularly told their 9-year old sister, who still thoroughly enjoyed school: "Just wait."

Read more at Education Week.

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