A couple months ago 60 Minutes did a piece on NY Times best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell. In the segment Gladwell recited a quote had heard from his mother as a child, “It is important to be bored, it gives your mind a rest.”
This quote resonated with me and got me thinking…Do we let our children rest their minds? Do we allow boredom?
I find myself as a 29 year old new parent as being stuck between two parenting paradigms. When I was a child I remember going out to play, real play, the type of play where my mother knew where I was (approximately) but didn’t know what I was necessarily up to. I remember building snowforts, inventing variations of hide and go seek or tag and playing home run derby in my best friend’s backyard. I also remember being bored and then doing something about it, my mother didn’t solve my boredom for me. 20 year later and I don’t see that type of play happening in our community as much anymore…
We now seem to live in an over-scheduled contrived play date world. Some of my students for instance have piano, dance, and a basketball after school…and I don’t mean throughout the week, that is just one night! Heck, when I was in University I remember tutoring a grade 2 student in math until 10 at night! Yikes!!! Parenting it seems has turned into a never ending chauffeur service of going from one event to another to ensure our children are well-rounded and perpetually stimulated.
My concern is that we are not letting our children be bored. Boredom is seen as the enemy.
I see a connection between boredom and great things happening because of that boredom. When we give our mind a rest we are giving it an opportunity to power up and get ready for brilliance. This is the reason why I encourage students to take mental brain beaks in my classroom. By letting our children create their own play rather than bouncing them from one organized activity to another we give them the power to be bored and then the power to solve their boredom themselves.
So…maybe boredom isn’t so bad sometime. My guess is that if we let them be bored then we’ll get a chance to watch them be brilliant.