Monday, April 1, 2013

"Children should be allowed to get bored..." from BBC news

When our son Buster was 5 years old we decided to spend the summer sailing aboard a boat we had built and lived aboard for years. Our destination was the wild and empty archipelogos and mountainous fjords, of the British Cloumbia coast. We provisioned for two months: supplies, spare parts, food, wine and clothes for heat, wind and rain. What we completely forgot were Buster’s toys.

In his pocket he had one little car and that was that. By the time we realized this, we’d been a whole day at sea, far from civilization. We felt horrible thinking he’d be forever bored.

But Buster didn’t care. The boat and everything on it became his toys. He wanted—and learned instantly—to steer, set the sails, follow a compass course, locate us on the charts and, mostly, how to row our little wooden dinghy once we anchored.a

And there was the rope. A three-foot piece of rope became his best friend, his toy, and his pet that he took for walks. He also learned to tie it into ten different knots. He took it with him when he went to greet each and every sailboat that came into the quiet anchorages we found along the way. He got to know everyone, was loved by all, invited aboard by most.

Late that summer a former attaché to the United Nations rowed over to tell us he was sure that Buster, with his love for and interest in people, would one day be the UN’s Secretary General.

All because we forgot his toys at home.

Children should be allowed to get bored, expert says
By Hannah Richardson, BBC News education reporter

Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative, an education expert says.

Dr Teresa Belton told the BBC cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination.

She quizzed author Meera Syal and artist Grayson Perry about how boredom had aided their creativity as children.

Syal said boredom made her write, while Perry said it was a "creative state".

The senior researcher at the University of East Anglia's School of Education and Lifelong Learning interviewed a number of authors, artists and scientists in her exploration of the effects of boredom.

She heard Syal's memories of the small mining village, with few distractions, where she grew up.

Dr Belton said: "Lack of things to do spurred her to talk to people she would not  otherwise have engaged with and to try activities she would not, under other circumstances, have experienced, such as talking to elderly neighbours and learning to bake cakes.

"Boredom is often associated with solitude and Syal spent hours of her early life staring out of the window across fields and woods, watching the changing weather and seasons.

"But importantly boredom made her write. She kept a diary from a young age, filling it with observations, short stories, poems, and diatribe. And she attributes these early beginnings to becoming a writer late in life."


The comedienne turned writer said: "Enforced solitude alone with a blank page is a wonderful spur."

While Perry said boredom was also beneficial for adults: "As I get older, I appreciate reflection and boredom. Boredom is a very creative state."

And neuroscientist and expert on brain deterioration Prof Susan Greenfield, who also spoke to the academic, recalled a childhood in a family with little money and no siblings until she was 13.

"She happily entertained herself with making up stories, drawing pictures of her stories and going to the library."

Dr Belton, who is an expert in the impact of emotions on behaviour and learning, said boredom could be an "uncomfortable feeling" and that society had "developed an expectation of being constantly occupied and constantly stimulated".

But she warned that being creative "involves being able to develop internal stimulus".

"Nature abhors a vacuum and we try to fill it," she said. "Some young people who do not have the interior resources or the responses to deal with that boredom creatively then sometimes end up smashing up bus shelters or taking cars out for a joyride."

'Short circuit'

The academic, who has previously studied the impact of television and videos on children's writing, said: "When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.

"But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them."

It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen "tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity".

Syal adds: "You begin to write because there is nothing to prove, nothing to lose, nothing else to do.

"It's very freeing being creative for no other reason other than you freewheel and fill time."

Dr Belton concluded: "For the sake of creativity perhaps we need to slow down and stay offline from time to time."

No comments:

Post a Comment