Is boredom good for us?

I’ve been hearing a lot recently about the “benefits” of boredom. One of the teachers honored by the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies said she tells her high school students they need to feel bored. They need to unplug, unwind, step back from the world of constant stimulation and just let themselves BE. Even if it’s…

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Can’t we be just a little bit funny?

  In the past few weeks, I’ve been reviewing textbooks and educational videos for a couple of different companies. Sounds fun, right? Not really. The biggest shortcoming of most of these materials is that they aren’t funny. At all. You won’t even crack a smile looking at them. They’re so completely devoid of humor that…

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If school comes easy, find a bigger challenge

Near the end of the school year, one of my freshmen (I’ll call her Meg) complained to me about our school’s grading system. “Why does homework have to be 20% of my grade? If I can get As on tests without doing assignments, why does homework count against me?” We had a little post-AP test…

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A cynical take on the value of school

Last week, a Slate.com article on a new technology to track mental engagement (Pay Attention!) raised the issue of boredom in school, quoting this stat: “82 percent of U.S. high school students report being sometimes or often bored in class.” Like me, the writer Mary Mann (also the author of Yawn: Adventures in Boredom) clearly…

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If it’s interesting, they’ll listen

Which high school subject is most interesting to students? Economics Pre-calculus Physics English History The answer: None of the above. No subject is inherently the most interesting; what students find interesting depends on how we teach the material. I was reminded of this twice in the past week, thanks to my AP Psych students. First,…

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Teaching teachers? At least model good teaching

It’s bad enough when someone puts up a PowerPoint and talks at me for an hour about a dull topic like ACT test prep, choosing a textbook or the school’s new tardy policy. But when a conference presenter who promises a session on “inquiry learning” puts up a tiny-font PowerPoint and lectures me about how…

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Is boredom actually good for you?

Boredom can be good for you, it’s true. But at school, not so much. After my last blog post, a friend challenged me and pointed out that boredom is not all bad. I spent a little time following up on that — to see what research says about the plus side of boredom. Researchers have…

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Let’s end boredom together

What does it mean to “never bore” our students? How can we train teachers in active-learning strategies that engage all students? Promoting active learning in high school classrooms has been my mission for just over a year, and now there are big changes underway at NeverBore. You may have noticed that this blog is now MarthaRush.org.…

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Yes, fun is a good goal

Have you ever run into students over the summer who told you excitedly that they are studying vocabulary for next year? Drawing graphs? Solving problems with formulas? Reading textbooks? No, probably not. Last night I ran into three students at a Junior Achievement event, and they couldn’t wait to tell me what they’d been doing…

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Bored? Yes, it’s a problem

There’s a running joke in my family about a niece who, as a young child, complained that she was “bored” whenever she was tired, hungry, angry, or dissatisfied for any reason. On one memorable car ride, when she forgot to wear her hat and wasn’t allowed to go back and get it, she whined loudly…

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