W ho: You.
When: Yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Why: Oh, various and sundry reasons.
How: Well, where does one start? Let's see . . .
Remember not that long ago when you were warning yourself: "No, not again . I've got to concentrate. It's a brand new school year, there's still hope. College. Think college. If not for you, for mom and dad. . . ."
OK, all inner-discussion closed. Ears and eyes open, mind alert, mouth shut. No more messing around.
Time to take it away . . . reading.
But, unfortunately, this original unit, this fountain of power, has been so distributed to multitudes, has been so minutely subdivided and peddled out, that it is spilled into drops . . .
Forget it. There is no hope. You were wrong. No chance, no way, no how.
So Emerson was a connoisseur of literature "ideology". . . . Do I care? If you ask me, he's just as loony and absurd as the next great American writer. How can I possibly grasp, learn, understand, study and memorize let alone enjoy words I cannot even pronounce?
Call it boredom. Dull, flat-out boredom.
Something is going on in those little brains of ours 24 hours a day, and if we aren't paying attention to the lessons of greater academic substance, then what are we thinking about? Is it that we are above and beyond the wide knowledge available from school, or are we so turned off because we can't begin to imagine what it is we're being taught?
No matter the reason, for sake of our egos we will call the affliction boredom. Those endless class periods spent watching the clock tick or studying the insides of our eyelids.
"Boredom stems not from the individual himself, even his company, but rather from the elements of his self-created atmosphere." (Like that one? Made it up myself. Really.)
Time for an analogy: You are a farmer (not really, just play along), and you plant seeds on your land. Your crops will prosper and flourish only if you care for them incessantly and carefully. Understand?
OK, maybe in these terms: You are a farmer, and the seeds you plant are your hopes, dreams and goals. The land on which you plant them is your life. The crops you hope to yield are your achievements.
Boredom itself is an achievement. When you plant bad seeds, you harvest a bad crop. When you do not study, you do not learn. When you do not learn, you do not understand. When you do not understand, chances are you do nothing.
In a poll of Brea-Olinda High School students, 55% of those responding said the most boring time of the school day is in the afternoon, and 33% said history is the most boring class.
However, Yesenia Manzo, junior, said, "My history teacher is great and interesting, but history (the subject) is just flat out B-O-R-I-N-G." Math received 23% of the responses as being the top yawner. English came in third with 18%.
The most boring "learning facilitator"? Class discussion, no doubt, with a 43% response. This would seem surprising as at least student talking and opinion is involved.
Receiving 25% of the response was the infamous "busywork," a substitute teacher's specialty, with all those dittos, "discussion questions" (that never get discussed), and "turn-it-in-by-the-end-of-the-period" reminders.
And let us not forget "self reading"--the only opportunity for students to read at their own pace and for teachers to catch up on their grading of next class period's tests. It should come as no shock that "self reading" was rated most boring by 20%.
We all suffer from the feelings of boredom at some point, and we all show various symptoms. Here is what some students revealed about themselves when they were on the brink, if not yet deeply engaged, in the state of boredom:
"Twirl my hair and write notes back and forth to friends in that class."
--Gwen Vecchio, senior
"Put my head down or count the number of holes in the ceiling or contemplate life."
--Amanda Goyette, senior
"Bite my nails, crack the joints in my fingers, tap pencils and pens, write to my girlfriend, sleep, talk."
--Ben Saine, senior
"I usually sleep, write songs on the desk tops or check out the guys' legs in the room."
--Karen Railey, junior
"Doodle, read the obscenities on my desk, sing 'Siamese Twist.' "
--Steve Strode-Jackson, senior
--Carter Kim, senior
"Sleep, write notes, read the graffiti on my desk, and once in a while make some of my own."
--June Chung, junior
For those of us seeking a way to overcome boredom, here are a few tips provided by the survey takers:
Take a deep breath. Realize that you are out of it, then fight for the right to return to it.
Next, figure out where you are in class. If you are supposed to be reading, look at what page your neighbor is on, and pray he or she is not also recovering from a vegetable state.
If you cannot keep things together, or you cannot get back on track, keep your eyes on the instructor and your mouth closed. In this situation, the worst that could happen is your teacher will call on you. (Try crossing your fingers--but never try to get away with a spontaneous, irrelevant response.)
Lastly, if none of the above work, amuse yourself inconspicuously . Write a song, tell yourself a joke (just don't laugh out loud), count your teeth with your tongue, imagine your teacher at Woodstock . . . anything quiet and unobtrusive is fine. The key is to be inconspicuous.
Now, stop yawning and get to work.