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Are Kids Just Plain Bored? Is That the Problem?


Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, told attendees at a forum yesterday in Iowa what he thinks is the No. 1 problem facing America's schools.

Kids are bored.

He called it a "huge, stupid mistake" that schools have changed their curriculum to include so much emphasis on math, science, and other core classes at the expense of subjects such as art and music, which may keep students more engaged in school.

There's no easy fix to student boredom, especially from the president's vantage. Do you agree with Huckabee that part of the problem with schools today is that kids are bored? And is adding more music and art back to the curriculum part of the solution?


Yes, kids are bored, but it is not the content or subject being taught. It is the way in which it is taught. Many teachers teach the way they were taught; text, lecture, individual practice. Colleges and universities must equip teachers with new strategies that focus on today's environment. The reality is, kids today can readily access anything with a click. Their world has constant stimulation that engages all their senses. Only those students who get that innovative teacher or are self-motivated or motivated by their parents will succeed.

Kids are bored for two reasons:

First, we don't ask what they want to learn. We strip them of any real decision making and act surprised when they're not engaged. To those obsessed with a uniform curriculum, at the very least you should support Montessori schools as a way to maximize choice and forced standards.

Second, we don't teach in the way people learn. The classroom should only serve as a briefing station for planning and reflecting on work done in the wider community. After age 10, children should spend their days at internships in the wider community, working side by side an accomplished adult mentor.

Imagine: Mondays and Tuesdays at the veterinarian's office, learning about sciece in the context of saving animals. Wednesday honing your carpentry skills by volunteering at a Habitat for Humanitity site and then getting a healthy dose of compassion by working at a soup kitchen. Thursday chasing down leaders for a reporter at a local newspaper and learning to be clear and concise in your writing. Friday catching up on reading and taking a pottery course. Now that's an education. Oh yeah, it's pretty much free.

Many kids are bored because they don't like their teachers. Either they are "mean," lack a sense of humor, or are teaching out-of-field.

The manner in which the subject is taught is uninspiring. While it follows the "lesson plan," it is dry and repetitive.

Greater use of technology may or may not be helpful. It can actually hinder the flow and fun of good instruction.

The teachers who could inspire the kids are screened out or are underutilized.
Substitute teachers who are competent in math and science are denied the opportunity to teach it their own way. Education majors teach "small-scale science" which lacks depth.

Students who dislike math and science get more of it, while those who enjoy it are denied the chance to benefit from a teacher who understands the subject.

Matt, I totally agree with you!
I want to add my opinions:
Teachers are not The Entertainment Committee. When we teach purposeful
curriculum in authentic contexts and provide on-going progress monitoring for our students, they respond by learning. Parts of learning are boring; parts of learning are painful.
Further, we have an extended adolescence in the U.S. that fosters dependency. Matt's excellent suggestion for service learning across settings after age 10 is a powerful one that both respects and empowers youth.

Im in 9th grade and i am always bored at our school. all the teachers are so old! I hate it. Its a waste of my time and i forget it the next week anyway.

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