Kids and Boredom

Electronic devices have brought convenience, but they have also elevated the need for constant entertainment to a dizzying height for our kids (and for adults as well). Patience and perseverance have suffered terribly as a result and pave the way for our children to expect every moment to be a circus of amusement. The sad part comes when they begin their lives in school or in the work force and see that making a living and raising a family can’t be Disney World every second. The habit of having someone or something to entertain us constantly seems OK during infancy and pre-school, though ingenuity suffers if the habit continues into school years and we become dependent upon outside sources to give us diversion on demand. We seem to be turning into a society in which almost everything is done for us every minute of the day and night. Our lives have become wireless in more ways than one. This is true, not only for kids.

Michael Combs and Dianne Vavra with their children Tom, 8, and Eve, 10, in their living room in Huntington, NY., April 23, 2011. The fully wired American living room can often seem less like an oasis for shared activity than an entangled intersection of data traffic. (Yana Paskova/The New York Times) -- PHOTOS MOVED IN ADVANCE AND NOT FOR USE - ONLINE OR IN PRINT - BEFORE MAY 1, 2011. --

There is such a thing as overstimulation and forgetting that learning sometimes begins with internal innovation that occasionally includes boredom and the need to escape it. Hard work brings rewards that can’t always be cushioned by synthetic stimuli just for the sake of diversion. Maybe that’s why students have a harder time now staying in focus. What happens when or if they become actual adults? I agree with chores and other responsibilities that can produce a level of pride in achievement through work and following through with something for more than a few seconds. Maybe we all need to learn that we can’t push a button for everything we want. We’ve become lazy and spoiled in that way, not to mention impatient. Self-reflection has become something we do through “selfies” instead of through meditation. Many of us can’t stand silence or the absence of a screen in front of us flashing something amusing or otherwise engaging.

mobile devicesOur culture has lost something in our shrinking collective sense of forbearance in having to do things sometimes that are not “fun.” We expect every problem to be solved by something that requires batteries. It’s becoming a Brave New World that reminds me of the one described by Aldous Huxley in his novel from 1931. Instead of Soma Tablets, we now have iPhones and myriad other toys that seem at times to be turning us into automatons.  JB

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About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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