Disengagement during middle school and high school is a symptom of a disease
called puberty and adolescence. Once this disease runs it course, they
amazingly recover just in time for those exciting college lectures.
As a longtime teacher, I think some of the "boredom" comes from the
constant stream of flashy media that today's kids are exposed to. Compared
to the latest and greatest video games, most teachers would seem
"boring." The intensity of today's world is such that doing common,
ordinary reading, writing, and math would seem dull by comparison.
As a public education teacher, I think there are many factors involved in
student engagement. Part of the picture is the teacher's lack of
enthusiasm and part of the puzzle is the use of too many video games and other
media at home. I also believe that we have gotten way to "soft" on
kids. Educators have focused far too long on preserving a child's ego and
self-esteem, and focused on testing results WAY too much. (Our state has even
decided to "up the ante" by wanting results through even more testing
with the new SAGE system, which will test our little darlings three times a year
instead of once a year.) When will we stop the madness and let teacher's
teach? I would love to be able to take the time to enrich lessons more fully,
but am either dealing with a 30+ student classroom, student's who have ADHD
and blurt out or get out of their seats, have emotional problems stemming from
difficult home lives, and/or working on referrals to resource. (Which is yet
another FEDERAL program that is full or red tape.)
I think we should allow for two tracks in school, just as they do in other
countries. One track for the college bound, and a track for those interested in
the trades. If we could get this type of system going, you would see less
goofing off in class in the upper grades, and more engagement among parents for
the lower grades.....seems like it would be a win, win situation for everyone.
I was excited in school, then grew mostly bored, then grew excited again in
college. I played sports in High School and College, but I have always thought
the U.S. culture doesn't pay enough attention to those achieving
academically and it seems to have only gotten worse since my school days. I think it would help students a lot if we could turn that around and
cheer on academic achievement, even more than sports' achievement. Many
more children have an opportunity in school and life to be successful
academically than those that will be successful in sports.
High school ruined reading for me, I was incredibly bored with the required
reading I had to do. Books such as Hamlet, Scarlet Letter, etc, may be classics
but they were awful to read during my HS years. I would have benefited more by
reading newer and more exciting books.
Kids and teachers have known this for years. The difference between students and
teachers' enthusiasm between 1st grade and 8th grade is palpable.Why are kids bored?--Classes are FAR too long. Cut the time in
half, have teachers deliver the material succinctly, then kids do the work at
home.--No time for that? Sure there is. Fully half of each day is
wasted in discipline issues, paperwork, and just sitting around waiting for the
bell to ring. Be a substitute for a day if you don't believe me.--Kids are forced to be in classes above and below their levels. We need to
group kids based on abilities, not ages. It hasn't worked for 100+ years,
why should age-based education suddenly succeed now?--Give kids more
options. Not everyone is going to college, not everyone needs algebra or
biology; if kids want to pursue a necessary and practical trade, let's get
them in a school that caters to their individuality. If kids want college, shift
them into schools that accommodate those personalities as well.But,
we won't do any of the above, because change is too hard.
Bravo Mom of 8!The reason why we don't "ability group"
is because we are so afraid of "hurting self esteem". This was the
school of thought for many teachers trained to teach in the '80s. It is
that we must preserve at all costs a child's self image. I agree that we
should not hurt children...that is not the point. However, I think that ability
grouping actually helps students feel successful. Making the brightest students
wait destroys their ability to engage in classwork, and moving children ahead
who are not ready to makes them 'give up'. I wish there were
more innovative thinkers in public ed who were not scared of being sued, or were
not afraid to go back to methods that work.
We use ability grouping in Charter schools and many district schools. Ability
grouping works wonders to overcome boredom as does a brisk instructional pace.
Achievement level grouping and rigorous pacing - you are exactly right Steven!
They are the answer to boredom. At American Prep we have found that kids LOVE
to work REALLY HARD - they love to be given great challenges that test what they
are "made of" and they love to work to achieve success. And success
motivates them to continue to work hard.When you are busy doing all
that, there really is no time for boredom!