How Do You Deal With Boredom?

How Do You Deal With Boredom?

How do you deal with boredom? Has your approach changed over time? What have the adults in your life taught you about managing boredom?

In the Opinion essay “Let Children Get Bored Again,” Pamela Paul writes, “Boredom teaches us that life isn’t a parade of amusements. More important, it spawns creativity and self-sufficiency.” She continues:

“I’m bored.” It’s a puny little phrase, yet it has the power to fill parents with a cascade of dread, annoyance and guilt. If someone around here is bored, someone else must have failed to enlighten or enrich or divert. And how can anyone — child or adult — claim boredom when there’s so much that can and should be done? Immediately.

But boredom is something to experience rather than hastily swipe away. And not as some kind of cruel Victorian conditioning, recommended because it’s awful and toughens you up. Despite the lesson most adults learned growing up — boredom is for boring people — boredom is useful. It’s good for you.

If kids don’t figure this out early on, they’re in for a nasty surprise. School, let’s face it, can be dull, and it isn’t actually the teacher’s job to entertain as well as educate. Life isn’t meant to be an endless parade of amusements. “That’s right,” a mother says to her daughter in Maria Semple’s 2012 novel, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.” “You are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

Students, read the entire essay, then tell us:

— How do you define “boredom?” Has this definition changed as you’ve gotten older? Explain.

— What do you think about the idea that it’s your job to make your own life interesting? Can you give some examples of how you’ve done that, or at least tried?

— Ms. Paul suggests that many parents believe that for their children, “every spare moment is to be optimized, maximized, driven toward a goal.” How does this support or contradict how your parents view your free time?

— Speaking of which, how much free time do you have in an average week? What do you do with it? How much of that time would you say you feel bored?

— Do you agree that boredom can lead to things like creativity, self-discipline and becoming more resourceful? If so, how can this happen? Give examples to support your idea.

— Ms. Paul says that students expect school to be fun. What are your thoughts on that statement? Does your school “cave,” as she puts it, on this? Also, what role, if any, do you think fun can play in learning?

— Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.