#SOL20 Day 28: On Boredom

As a writer, I very much stand “guilty as charged” when it comes to planting seeds…and then forgetting about them. Today I spent some time walking among the rows of drafts that I’ve planted on my blog, and I found this one. It strikes me as timely right now, especially as so many of us are grappling with new ways to face the boredom that comes to greet us. I gave it a little tending, and here I offer it to you.

Boredom gets a bad rap. It’s my sense that boredom is more like that 70’s kitchen with the avocado fridge, brown walls and the carpeting. Still useful and important, but maybe it needs an update or two.

Maybe if you’re talking about boredom as that anxious, antsy, holy-cow-how-am-I-going-to-occupy-my-time boredom, maybe that’s not so great. But that’s not how I see it. Here’s where I’m coming from.

Despite what my husband may think, I’m an introvert. Yes, I can schmooze when I need to, but boy does it wear me out. And one of my favorite things to do is to get lost in my thoughts.

I’ve always loved being on my own, entertaining myself. Even when I was little. I would disappear for hours inventing a new nature hike, or hang out in my room putting on puppet shows for myself, or stare out the car window counting things.

And even now, as a grown-up. Yes, I have sat through my share of hours of mind-numbing meetings, lines, car trips and airport waits. But for the most part, I can’t often say that I’m bored, because I always have some way to occupy my brain.

Why do I mention this?

Because it’s what I want for my students. For most of them, the only time they have to be alone in their thoughts is when they’re laying awake at bedtime. In those moments, the mind that’s been anxious to explore all day now has free rein. And as anyone who’s lain awake at night with a racing mind knows, that’s not always a good thing.

So I’ve introduced time in class for students to just sit. Sit and think. It was funny to watch them at first, strange and awkward. I could see their questions in the way they fidgeted and looked around. What do we do with our hands? What do we look at?

But once kids get past the awkward, something magical happens. They start to LIKE it. They start to enjoy and look forward to the time I give them to let their brains explore wherever they’d like to go.

I think we’re on to something!

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11 Responses to “#SOL20 Day 28: On Boredom”

  1. Anna Maria Says:

    “Sit and think. It was funny to watch them at first, strange and awkward.”
    I do this too! I call it a brain break and they get so excited. A majority of them just put their heads down and close their eyes. But a few who are facing the window I see their vision drift out the window and among the clouds. Some are probably flying amid the clouds while others are seeing shapes. Who knows. I don’t ask because just like them I’m getting lost in my thoughts too.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Isn’t it wonderful to be the one in the room watching that happen? Or, as you put it, to allow yourself the chance to get lost right with them?

  2. arjeha Says:

    I like the idea of drafts being seeds. Classroom time to sit and think…something I am sure many teachers wouldn’t consider doing since there is never enough time to get through the curriculum, yet I see it’s value because it gives students time to process or just relax their my d’s before the next round of information is thrown at them.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Yes, that obstacle of TIME again. I feel like so often as a teacher I let TIME get in my way of doing things that I feel are good for my kids. Something that I (along with many of my colleagues) battle always. The whole “teach this do this” pressure versus the “but I know this is right” thing.

  3. Fran Haley Says:

    How wildly funny to compare boredom to the 70s kitchen! We had the avocado phone at my house! Like you, I am seldom bored. (It’s the introvert thing; have you done Myers-Briggs? I am INTJ. Highly suspect that you are as well). I always could happily occupy myself. Almost always have narrative running in my head. I did many of those same things as child and nothing was better than curling up with a book. I love how you brought this idea to the kids … they do need practice getting to know their own minds and how they work. It’s invaluable … in fact I know plenty of adults who could use the “sit and think” activity … oh! That reminds me of a little plaque I once had! It was one of my favorites: “Sometimes I sits and thinks. And sometimes I just sits.” 🙂

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      You’re pretty close, Fran! I’m INFJ, actually.

      And I love that plaque. I could hang it right next to my “Be Nice or Leave” sign…

  4. edifiedlistener Says:

    I love the thought of giving students time to simply sit with their thoughts. That seems a huge insight that this is something they are most likely to be missing. Being given permission to let one’s thoughts wander is so wildly counter-cultural in this age of educational accountability. Yay for your and your students!

  5. Maureen Ingram Says:

    I love love love the idea of a “sit and think” time at school! I so relate to this line, “one of my favorite things to do is to get lost in my thoughts.” This is true for me, too.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      It was one of my favorite things growing up as well. Chances are it was something I loved so much that I probably could have had a diagnosis pinned to me, if I were a student in today’s times…

  6. mschiubookawrites Says:

    Oh how I wish I could try this out in class! I also love getting lost in my thoughts! This scene I can totally picture- “So I’ve introduced time in class for students to just sit. Sit and think. It was funny to watch them at first, strange and awkward. I could see their questions in the way they fidgeted and looked around.” Thankful you finished this seed from the drafts folder.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you! Now I have to figure out how to remind my kids that they can do this for themselves at home, too!

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