Learning to like boring

It’s that time of year again, the week after SATs, the week when, in the past large piles of grey bags would arrive on my doorstep. This year is different – everything has been scanned and the marking arrives in my lap via my laptop.

I’ve started marking, I am already a little fed up of Megan and Chen and don’t really care who likes honey or jam or even how many counters they have. Marking, especially like this can be boring. I appreciate that it is a repetitive task, I signed up for it knowing that, as for the last ten years, my half term will be spent thinking about Megan and her friends. I will allocate so many hours a day, I will randomly change to marking a different question. I will get the marking done to the best of my ability within the timeframe that is given.

Today at school 2 children arrived in my office – “We ain’t going outside to do our lesson, it’s boring!” I’m not exactly sure what they were going to do outside but I am guessing it probably wasn’t as boring as sitting in my room. It seems to be a cry that I hear often, “I don’t want to do that, it’s boring.” Some things are boring. I have vivid memories of sitting, aged 6, in a classroom with my alpha and beta maths books and completing a page of calculations that went 1 + 0 =  , 2 + 0 =, 3 + 0 = up to quite a high number. The next page was more exciting … 1 + 1 =, 2 + 1 =, 3 + 1 =. It was boring but I wouldn’t have dreamed of not doing it.

Does a constant diet of X-Box games and films on Netflix mean that everything has to be techni-coloured and fast moving? It seems as if everything always has to be all singing and all dancing or a proportion of the children don’t want to engage with it. We used to have a lot of books, often with fairly predictable plots (Secret Seven, Famous Five etc.) and we would happily sit out in the garden and read drawn into the plot with familiar characters doing very similar things each time.

I am sure it is my age as I want to ask, “Did it do us any harm?” and other “old people” questions. I can still remember the boredom of those early maths questions but my maths is now good. I spent hours being asked times table facts and I’m sure that was boring too but it is a useful skill, lots of our children say that they know their times tables but what they do is use their fingers to go 3, 6, 9, 12 … and count how many steps they have gone up, it works but it isn’t quick or efficient.

Completing my maths was a good lesson. Some things in life are boring, you have to learn to get on with it. Running away doesn’t help – the job will still be there, as boring as before, later. We like to provide lessons that are interesting but perhaps we would do more for the child if we taught them how to start, and keep going to the end, of some useful but boring tasks.

Learning to like boring

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