Boredom- What Does it Mean?


This one word can get a ground swell going in no time flat. One parent can complain to another that their child is bored in math class and the rest become concerned. Then they ask their child, "Are you bored in math?" Of course, the answer is going to be yes in most cases. This then feeds the fears that boredom is a sign schools are not challenging their chldren. The fact is, a challenging program can feel like boredom to a child who doesnt' understand the definition of boredom. 

When asked what they felt was boring, each student had a different definition. The following are a few of things that my students defined as boring: not having video games to play, having to wait for parents completing tasks, eating alone, not having television to watch, hard math problems, having to write in class, sitting for too long, listening to someone else talk, learning something I learned before, when I am tired, and when I have read every book there is to read in my house and on the internet.

Children and parents are working with two different definitions. The children are defining a feeling connected with nothing to entertain them. Parents are responding to what they think is programing that is not stimulating. 

What are we really looking when it comes to boredom? It's more a lack of interest. Who's responsibility is it to create interest. One can lead a horse to water, but can not make them drink. Teachers can provide a stimulating program and high interest lessons, but we can't create interest on the part of the student. That is solely their responsibility. Recognizing what bored feels like to the student and accepting responsibility for changing the feeling will stop the use of this word. 

When students use this word to define how they are feeling, it is helpful for parents to clarify what their children why. The following is an example of how to help students idenitfy what they really mean by boring.

Teacher: "Why are you not completing your written assignments,

John: "I'm bored with writing."

Teacher: Is there a subject you don't find boring?"

John: "I love math."

Teacher: "Why don't you find math boring?

John: "Because it is fun."

Teacher: "Is it fun becasue it comes easily to you?"

John: "Yes!"

Teacher: "So, is writing boring because it is hard?"

John: "Yes."

Teacher: "What I am hearing is when work is hard, you are calling the feeling you are experiencing as boring, but wouldn't be clearer if you said it was hard?"

John: "Yes."

Teacher: "When you have that feeling in the future, instead of going off into lala land or talking to your classmates, come to me and tell me you are stuck, and I can help you figure out ways to make writing easier for you."




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