Monday, February 16, 2015

Post #150: Two options--dealing with boredom in the classroom

Today, I'm celebrating my 150th post on this blog. I also finished Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book, Flow (probably one of the top three most important books I've read in recent years).

Then I spent some time in Logee's Greenhouse in Danielson, CT. OMG. If you haven't been there, you are missing out, especially in the winter, it is just what the doctor ordered for the winter blues and cabin fever. It is about as close as you'll ever come to exploring a tropical rainforest in the middle of a new England winter, complete with fruiting papaya, lemon, and orange, and a mind-blowing variety of beautiful tropical plants to drink in with all the senses (and purchase for very reasonable rates). And it's the opposite of boredom. (PS: If you make a special trip out here, please look me up, I'd love to come with.)

And then I had a great, extended, invigorating time snowshoeing and then shovelling the roof. Then, though I didn't expect it, enjoyed reading from Unfinished Business for the School Climate course I'm taking.

And I didn't expect it. In fact, I was trying to figure out how I was going to deal with the impending boredom of completing that task. I was trying to figure out which of the two options for dealing with boring tasks I laid out yesterday I should employ. 

And I'm sticking to those two options. I started to think there should be a third, something like "3) Enjoy your favorite music, food, and/or beverage while completing the boring task." 

But I'm going to try to resist that. It's too much like giving in. And I'd rather do option 1) or 2) AND enjoy music, food, and beverage.

But speaking of boredom, one of the coolest quotes from my reading today was from a student who had been involved in the Student Outreach Committee project at Berkeley High School in the 90s. He wrote this in his essay about students the high school:
"They are reprimanded when they act out because they are bored with the poorly designed lesson plans."


There is more instructional wisdom in that one sentence than half the books on the topic on Amazon.

Even before I read that, but after writing my post, I was wondering if I would allow students to implement my "2 Options" in my own class. I am quite aware that they find much of what we normally do as boring, and I no longer see that as their problem.

So what if I taught them the two options (I'm really tempted to include the third as an emergency measure) and then gave them permission to implement them.

Hmmm.. what about number 1? I can't let them go snow boarding down the massive snow bank in the south parking lot instead of writing their movie response, can I?

Perhaps not. 

Which makes it that much more imperative that I make Option #2 possible, even likely.
"Transform the boring task to make it a challenging, flow-generating experience, make the forms into a work of art, or a game. Make that boring essay into something that interests me."


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