Bulletin: Being Bored is Okay

Psychologists recommend children be bored in the summer


There is a strange phenomenon that frequently occurs in the summer that really intrigues me.

It is when I hear kids saying, “I’m bored!”

I don’t recall hearing my own children ever say that, but maybe they did and I just don’t remember. Age has a way of tricking us like that.

Sometimes I think we have enabled that thought process in our children by cramming so much into their days, that when there is a moment or two of complete silence they panic. They think they have to be “doing” something all the time. ALL-OF-THE-TIME!

Filling their every waking moment with non-boring activity, threatens to rob them of important benefits that boredom provides; like deep thinking, daydreaming, and imagination. According to this article, being bored is okay.

“While there’s a good chance children might mope around for a while and be bored, it’s important to realize that this isn’t wasted time.”

Our inclination is to rescue those suffering from this incurable condition by offering them ideas on what can be done to address the problem of boredom. Kids revert to their phones, texting, gaming, T.V. and other technology fixes. Adults tend to offer kids more beneficial and practical options such as chores, outdoor play, and summer type activities. Either way, boredom for its own benefit, is not usually considered a great option.

This article puts the onus on the child to address the boredom issue. It also provides a great idea for parents who are tired of hearing. “I’m bored” all summer long.

Enjoy the article!


More Than 6 Million Students are considered Chronically Absent – Chronically missing is the WHY

NPR article on Chronic Absenteeism


Every time I read a report on chronic absenteeism I look for the reason why.

Typically, these reports lump excused and unexcused absences, and even suspensions into their calculations. They talk about how students will fall behind, need remediation, and be at a greater risk for dropping out of school altogether. They discuss the damaging effects of prolonged absenteeism, often seeking support from parents who they say are ultimately responsible for addressing this problem. Most reports don’t mention the adverse effect chronic absenteeism has on the school district itself. When kids aren’t in school, the district loses money.

Reports rarely tell us the raw truth – a lot of kids hate school. Why is that so?

They may hate it for various reasons, but what they have in common is an overwhelming sense that school is not a positive or worthwhile place to be.  Their reasons may include bullying, lack of belonging, little to no student input into decision that are made, and just flat-out lack of interest or boredom with the curriculum. Incidentally, students may or may not be able to clearly articulate these reasons to adults who may ask, but they are nonetheless true.

Apart from staying home due to illness or other allowable excuses, kids are regularly held captive in school five days a week, 6-7 hours a day, in a place that sometimes looks and feels like a prison, especially the older they get. Many feel controlled and coerced, bribed and programmed in the form of grades, GPA, homework and testing. I hear it all the time, maybe you do too.

As one may assume, not all students feel this way. Some have learned and accepted the system’s programming and have adjusted accordingly. However, a great many have not, and those students tend to be the ones that find little value in coming to school.

We tell them to just suck it up, get with the program, and go to school anyway. We recycle the familiar excuse that it was good enough for us, so it is good enough for them. We tell them not to question school authority, unless we believe there has been an injustice. This offers little hope for those middle school and high school students who may be searching for the real meaning of school.

There is hope for this chronic absentee problem. It has to do with a long-held, only one-way to do school, paradigm. If we could only think outside that BOX, amazing learning can happen.

I am waiting for the day when we discover that learning is a personal journey propelled by personal interest and motivation. I am waiting for the day when we fully embrace diversity in learning as the norm and not a questionable alternative. I am waiting for real learning to be anywhere, anytime, without the confines of a place called school.

Until then, we may have to deal with a general lack of interest on the part of our students who find themselves skipping school, dropping out, or suffering from an unknown illness that keeps them home.






From GRIT to Emotions


Click here for the article on emotions and learning


The book, Emotions, Learning and the Brain, by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, suggests that in order to motivate students for academic learning, produce deep understanding, and ensure the transfer of educational experiences into real-world skills and careers, educators must find ways to leverage the emotional aspects of learning.

As in typical fashion, I have questions. How does one do that? How do teachers “leverage” emotions and what does that look like?  Is there a quick formula, or a handy three-step guide to keep on the teacher’s desk? Are there professional development modules available that someone no doubt has already created for purchase?

Pardon my sarcasm. It may be due to my upteen years of hearing and reading about impactful research that, if applied to classrooms, would change the education world as we know it, but then offers little to no practical value. By the way, we already knew about the connection between emotions and learning. Smart teachers have understood this for a very long time. So what’s up with this new promise to make things better for the learner?

A few quick  article bullet points in quotes and then my thoughts below:

  • …”we need to find ways to leverage the emotional aspects of learning in education.”
    • Leveraging the emotional aspect of learning in a school paradigm that honors conformity, coercion, and a disproportionate emphasis on the cognitive domain is an exercise in futility. 
  • …”meaningful learning is actually about helping students to connect their isolated algorithmic skills to abstract, intrinsically emotional, subjective and meaningful experiences.”
    •  It is the precise lack of interest and meaningful learning in the school that isolates students into a world of algorithmic skills in which they see little if any value.
  • “Though supporting students in building these connections is a very hard job, it appears to be essential for the development of truly useful, transferable, intrinsically motivated learning.”
    • It is a hard job because it is not natural and assumes that students are blank slates on which we have to write meaning and value for them. Useful, transferable or intrinsically motivated learning is determined by the student not those holding power over them in the form of grades and scores. As long as those elements are involved learning will never be purely intrinsic or motivational. 

Generally, students are motivated to learn anything that interests them. Find out what they are interested in first, and then plan lessons with that in mind. It is a great place to start.  Planning lessons with students themselves is even better, but school as we know it doesn’t usually allow for that kind of “out-of-the-box” approach.

Maybe some day, in a galaxy far, far away?