Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Joys of Boredom

"I am bored," is not a phrase we like to hear from students or our own children, and it is certainly not a phrase that we like to utter ourselves. Carolyn Y. Johnson of the Boston Globe contends that surprising things can happen when one is bored. She writes that:

"We are most human when we feel dull. Lolling around in a state of restlessness is one of life's greatest luxuries -- one not available to creatures that spend all their time pursuing mere survival. To be bored is to stop reacting to the external world, and to explore the internal one. It is in these times of reflection that people often discover something new, whether it is an epiphany about a relationship or a new theory about the way the universe an essential human emotion that underlies art, literature, philosophy, science, and even love."

It is all about the busyness of the "connected" world and life today. From electronic media to over stimulation, over scheduling, and instant gratification. We are all on the fast track to a place where free time is nonexistent and when we do find it we "plug in" instead. As teachers we try to use each moment in the day to keep kids busy and learning (or should I say busy "or" learning?)and we fail to understand the need for everyone to sit back and reflect and be bored (although our students will tell us otherwise). It reminds me of one of the best books I have read on education, Chip Woods "Time to Teach, Time to Learn
Changing the Pace of School
". In it he shows shows, "How changing the way we use time will transform our schools from the "fact factories" they have become into the democratic communities of learning which they can and should be, schools in which the pace of the day encourages investigation, contemplation, completion, and community."

There needs to time in every one's day to be bored in order to be human.

If you are feeling a little bored it might be best to go play in the sandbox, just like those little kids do! You can see a video of "Phun" a 2D Physics Sandbox that you can download for free if you have some time to kill on your hands.

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