“Mommy, I’m bored.”
I’ve been hearing this phrase most days from my youngest, Sarah. Summer seems to have taken on a steady, predictable routine. Sarah is a bright and vivacious child. She enjoys reading and can make a mean stromboli. Her passions, like most seven year olds, are Minecraft and Roblox. For a few years now, she has been playing these online games religiously. I was quite shocked to see that she was losing interest in them and reciting the “bored” phrase.
I am not the mom that sets up all sorts of activities for her children. I think boredom is an important skill to maneuver in life. So, I usually respond to her with this question, “What are you going to do about your boredom?” She then finds something to occupy her time and challenge her thinking.
We’re On a Break
A year ago, I felt the same way. I am a life long learner and I’m passionate about learning. I often read the latest educational books, blogs, and articles to quench my thirst. But they quickly became a mirrored reflection of each other.
My favorite educational blog was becoming dull and platitudinous. I faithfully read and reread posts. I commented on them, shared them, even wrote blog posts about their blog post. I learned and agreed with much of what was written. But, as time went on, I felt that the posts were redundant. The same stories, same ideas, and quotes seemed to carry through to the next post. The magic that I felt initially wasn’t there.
So, I stopped reading my favorite blog. Not only did I stop reading it, but I stopped following the author’s pages elsewhere too.
I also stopped reading many educational books and participating in Twitter chats. Student autonomy, personalized education, and project based learning were the recurring themes, swirling around each book, article, and chat. Even the educational conferences I went to focused on the “big three”. It seemed to me that there was nothing new, nothing fresh. I’m just not that into you, I thought. I wondered why and what brought this on? How could I lose interest in learning? Most importantly, what am I going to do about my boredom?
I took a hiatus from it all. I took a step back.
Thinking Differently vs Knowledge Gained
When I worked in the Chester School District, in Chester, NJ, I had a student that would take a break during group projects. He was an exceptional student, gifted in his own right. If he felt the solution to a problem on which his group was working was typical or easy, he would get up, leave the group for a bit, and stand at the opposite end of the room. One day, I asked him why he did that. His profound response has stayed with me all these years,
“Well, Mrs Howard, sometimes I don’t see things well up close. Everybody is doing stuff and it just looks all the same to me. Everyone’s ideas are the same and they’re all saying the same stuff. I just wanna think about it. I understand it and know what we have to do. I have an idea, but I need to think about how that would look and work out. I can’t with all the buzz over there”.
Many use the phrase, “Great minds think alike”. But is that a good thing? Is it good when we all are thinking alike? And doing like things?
Sometimes we need to step away to think about what we’ve learned, what to do with this learning, and how it applies to us. I certainly do not feel in any way that I have “learned it all” and I hope my post does not come across as such. But, I feel that the knowledge I have gained from my favorite blog, from Twitter and educational materials, is second to the ideas and thinking that it has sparked.
“The ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained.” ~ David Bohm
Coming Around Again
Our relationship with the things we are passionate about will be on a continuous cyclical, peak and valley journey. If you find yourself losing interest in your passion, try to reconnect with why you actually fell in love with it. What was it that attracted you to your craft? If you want to fall back in love with your work, you need to show up to your relationship differently and with different expectations. Here are a few ideas:
- Approach your work from a beginner’s mind. Focus on experiencing it with a state of curiosity and exploration. Help create something new; new units, lessons, projects, a new committee or even a book club among your staff. Try incorporating something new into your units of study, tech tools or a different platform that you have been interested in learning.
- Mentor others. Learning is a social activity. Connect with a complete novice in your field. Offer to mentor them and soak up some of their enthusiasm and excitement. Also, get to know your resources. Become familiar with colleagues and their areas of expertise.
- Ask how you can nurture your passion, rather than expecting the flame to be automatically lit. Discuss you’re lack of interest with an administrator, or colleague. Maybe they too had a similar situation and can offer assistance. How are you going to nurture your passion?
Remember that the fastest way to kill your passion is by comparing yourself to the accomplishments of others. Instead, focus on your vision. Everyone’s starting point, journey, and end point will be different. There’s no reason to compare or compete.
Ironically today, Sarah began playing Minecraft again. Strangely enough, I saw the latest post from my favorite blog. I didn’t understand how it could appear on my news feed as I no longer follow it. But, I guess God works in mysterious ways.