When a kid says, “I am bored”, with a long drawn out sigh, I usually say, “good.” I do not and will not automatically seek out activities that will keep them amused or entertained. That was not my job as a parent and it would certainly not support my deep belief in the empowering philosophy behind self-directed learning.
Even with that explanation, you are probably asking why I respond, “good”, to any child’s (teen’s) pronouncement of boredom. It is very simple. When you are bored, your brain goes into overdrive to create a diversion from the stupefying symptoms of lethargy and restlessness. Boredom, in other words, directly leads to some of the most intensely creative ideas and solutions you will ever have. (Have you ever wondered about the old axiom: idle hands or minds are the devil's workshop?) To get all technical and biological about it - tedium is our evolutionally guided response to staying alive. (I know, I know, some incredibly stupid and dangerous ideas have also come out of boredom - this is where I say - "please use your brains and remember past consequences, before implementing something that can and will hurt you!")
I started pondering all this when one of the kids I was hanging out with, during this past week’s theater workshop, told me a story about building sand castles on the seashore. He spent a fair amount of time and energy figuring out how to stop the big waves from wiping out his creations. Through play and experimentation, he discovered the solution. As he related this story to me, he explained that building indestructible sand castles was no longer fun and actually got tedious, because it was no longer challenging.
Bam! Why do kids get bored? Because - they are constantly examining new ideas and concepts while learning and growing! Once they figure something out – they need some down time to mentally process what they just learned before they can move on to the next trial. Once that rest period is over, however, they are ready to actively dig in and discover an enterprising solution to the next problem. I should be very clear – these are not problems presented to them by a teacher or parent – these must be puzzles sought and encountered through their own investigations while playing, exploring, and experimenting.
Which brings us back to - learning is natural. Children are intrinsically driven to seek out opportunities to learn. If adults will simply stand back, (Yes, I quite literally mean get to hell out of the way!) and, be prepared to provide the necessary resources, materials, and support (NOT advice), kids (teens) have all they need to develop really cool, creative, and innovative answers for some of our biggest challenges.
DRC NEWS Summer Programming: Thank you once again to the fantastic Karen Wells for providing a supportive, professional environment for kids to participate in real theater experiences. It was a privilege to watch seven kids learn theatric skills while developing caring relationships with their fellow thespians. Music Week with Christopher Raymo begins this Monday. We are looking forward to creating some awesome sounds. There is room for one or two more participants, if your musician would like to join us. Register here. Art and Craft Week starts Aug 28th. This program is filling up quickly. Register here.