I think that has happened to most teachers, a bored student, but what may not have happened to many is for that student to have the guts to tell you. I know I was incredibly bored throughout many classes in my school days but I never did tell a teacher since I figured nothing good would come of it. And I may have been right because my gut reaction the moment I was told was to get frustrated. How can you be bored in my room? We do so many exciting things! And yet, I bite my tongue, nod, and go home with a head full of questions.
I have a classroom full of noise, ideas, and engagement. It is something I work incredibly hard for and I am very very proud of and yet, it can also be boring. There are times when the base needs to be built for our further exploration and I have to talk. I try to make it engaging, I try to make is student-centered, and yet sometimes I can’t. It gets better every year but still; but yes I can be boring. So these thoughts follow me home and I ask my husband what I should he do since he acutely suffered from school boredom.
His thoughts stopped me; “Maybe it isn’t you? Maybe you do everything you can and that child needs to step up too. Maybe boredom is a two way street and you can only make it so exciting but if the student is not ready or wanting to be engaged then it doesn’t matter what you do.” I immediately started to defend the child and lament that it must be me until I realized he may be on to something; perhaps we as educators can only do so much. Perhaps we can only engage and excite until a certain point and then the student has to invest as well. Perhaps we cannot change every student’s perception of school no matter how many things we pull out to do. Perhaps, we are not the only ones with control in our classroom?
So I turn to you; what do we do when students are bored? After we have changed the curriculum, the approach and the task? What do we do when a student-centered learning environment is not enough? Do we dare tell the student that they too have to invest? That they have to make an effort to be interested or else school will be infinitely boring no matter what we do? Do we dare put some of the responsibility for school engagement back on their shoulders? Or is that taking the easy way out?