Sometimes it’s good to let them be bored...they're eight and 10, they'll have plenty of time for the computer.-Will Richardson, "Get Off The Computer"
Schedules. Busy schedules. Tools. Lots of tools. Toys. Lots of toys. Stimulation? Yes, overly so. It's not just the kids, it's all of us. As I sat at my computer this morning trying to put some of these ideas in my mind onto "paper" (funny how wed I am to that word), I found myself totally consumed by various Twitter DMs, divergent blog posts, and the streaming from Bloggers Cafe here at NECC. The information and community were coming fast offering a sugar-fix that helped me procrastinate that healthy square meal of longer reflection, creation and ultimately a sense of pride and maybe accomplishment.
Richardson and Kjellstrom's posts on boredom/nothingness stirred my mind last week. My inner monologue went something like "are we really doing nothing when we're bored"? What happens when our kids are bored, when we are bored, when life is boring.
That's where the drums come in. Somewhere is this muddle of a crazy life I started playing the drums. I don't have my own private tutor, I'm not planning to start a rock band, and I don't practice every day. I could tell you that I got hooked with the notion of /possibility of being a rock 'n roller when Tom Cruise gave his memorable "I'm a rock star" solo in Risky Business, or when I watched my friend Randall Kirsch take his gig into co-habitation with married-father-of-two-I-am-responsbile adult life. But, that wouldn't be telling the truth. It began when I was five, I was bored, and I discovered the pots and pans.
Discovery. Imagination. Creativity. Possibility. Dreams. The pots and pans, the Coca-Cola bottles filled with varying levels of water, the untuned piano in the basement, the crickets outside at night. Long summers, three TV channels, education-only TV during the week, a library card and not a lot to "do" inspired a wanna-be-musician (at least a lover of music), a reader and writer, and most importantly a true believer in The Art of Possibility. Though I complained loudly about being bored, by the time I settled into that place of quiet I was able to find who I was, where I fit in, what I could create, and some thoughts of who I might become.
Boredom is not "nothingness." As I wrote in response to Willy's blog post:
[B]oredom–or lack of a prescribed activity–enables imagination and creativity. Just like the lack of “saying anything” to fill space encourages private reflection, boredom actually moves us to higher levels of experience and engagement and learning.
I would add that boredom takes us to the place where we begin the process of learning how to learn, how to take ownership for our own learning, where we become empowered to be life-long learners. This is what our kids and our students really do need. I agree with Will: There is always time for all the rest.
Footnote: I'm really not learning how to play the drums. Not to say that I wouldn't love to learn. But, I am learning to "drum out" my passions, live into the possibilities, and encourage those around me to do the same. A drummer I shall be.