One of the most useful pieces of advice I’ve been given in my teaching career is ‘always leave them wanting more..’ It’s a good piece of advice.
Bored kids are kids that get into trouble.
Bored kids bully.
Bored kids break and destroy school property.
Bored kids get into fights.
Yet now I wonder if that advice also has a flip side. By keeping kids constantly on the go and never having a chance to be bored, they turn to quick fixes to entertain themselves.
As part of our Unit of Inquiry into how decisions impact our wellbeing, I planned a provocation with my class. I challenged them a task to do – keeping new learners at school safe – put the instructions up the board. The second instruction was ‘no rules’ the kids could do whatever they liked for 30 minutes.
- It took some time for the kids in my class to make decisions without an an adult telling them what to do.
- Most kids figured out that this being school, they’d need to complete a task.
- Many of the kids wanted to run around the classroom and throw things around because it was ‘against the rules.’
- Some of children fell over while they were running around.
- The kids only lasted 10 minutes with running around before they became bored and concerned about injury.
- Not one child was building or creating with their hands despite the materials being in the classroom.
- The only children drawing or making videos were those children completing the task.
- Not one child was reading a book.
- The only children who went outside were the ones completing the task
- It took 10 minutes before the first computer was being fired up to play Minecraft. By the end most of the boys and a small number of girls were staring at a screen.
This could be a sign of society going to waste. Kids who would rather stare at a screen rather than interact with other or even go outside to kick a football around. The kids were genuinely disappointed that they hadn’t considered going outside or making circuits until I pointed it out to them.
Yet I prefer to see it as an opportunity for learning for the children.
- That they are more prone to risky behaviour and injury when they are bored.
- That they need to develop spacial awareness of the best places to play.
- That they turn to video games because they aren’t mindful of alternatives.
As a teacher I’m mindful that I might be part of the problem.
- That the kids know they need to ‘do school’ and ‘complete tasks.’
- That I’m always keeping the kids busy and on task I’m missing opportunities for authentic learning.
- That they physical classroom environment isn’t conducive to independent learning.
- That kids need to fall over and seeing others fall over to get them to appreciate those rules.