Don't Bore Us - Get to the Chorus.
A guest blog post by Ian Yorston, Radley College
(Reprinted with the authors permission)
Much of what goes on in classrooms is unbelievably dull.
Which is strange, because no one ever really planned it that way.
And it's also strange in the sense that it doesn't work. I mean, there's no point in being boring - because pretty much no-one listens. But that doesn’t stop our system grinding on, interminably. Filling children’s head with stuff that really doesn't matter, either to them or to us. And if you doubt the validity of that last thought then just cast your mind back to all the subjects that you gave up as a child, the subjects that you really didn't enjoy and were simply thrilled to leave behind. Now walk a mile in those shoes.
Much as we will hate to admit it, the evidence that children find school boring is pretty overwhelming
What is most odd about this whole classroom experience, is that we know what does work: catch their attention, keep their focus and - hey presto - learning happens. It's always worked that way.
In the early days it was lions that caught your attention. Well, either that or a lion caught you - but that tended to remove you from the gene pool, so your attention never had the chance to wander again. Whereas in 4B on a wet Wednesday afternoon your attention can wander where it damn well pleases at almost no risk to anyone but your teacher - and only then if OfStEd happen to be watching
Of course, faced with boredom, our pupils will work extraordinarily hard to keep themselves amused. There's a reason for that. Human beings don't cope with boredom terribly well. It actually shortens our lifespan.
Unfortunately, those in authority tend to label "keeping oneself amused" as "disruptive behaviour" - which is generally regarded as a "bad thing" which should be "dealt with".
But we shouldn't be dealing with the problem. We should be bypassing the problem. We should be constantly reminding ourselves that a child's entire sensory system is geared towards attention and movement and distractions and squirrels. Indeed, almost anything that might "catch the eye". Such distractions allow neurones to fire and neural pathway ways to grow.
It turns out that avoiding lions is the very essence of learning. We need to embrace that challenge. Gaming. Sport. Projects. Life. We need to embrace technology to join real learning to real problems. We need to embrace real-time learning and real-time data. We need to address the real class issue in our schools, which is the classroom.
In short, we need to stop boring and start building - building minds that are both interested and interesting. About what, really doesn't matter.
"We were never feeling bored
'Cause we were never being boring
We had too much time to find for ourselves"