Sunday, April 24, 2011

That Ugly Word, "Boring!"

     I hate that word, boring.  When I taught regular ed, I always cringed when families explained their child's behavior by telling me the child was bored.  I took it as a personal blow, like I wasn't doing my job.  I realized how silly that was when I had to call a parent in for his son's behavior.  He immediately started with the "B" word.  (His son was a very bright first grader).  But the behaviors were happening when we lined up!  So I was able to say, "Mr. J., that may very well be, but C. needs to keep his hands to himself when we are lining up!"  Mr. J. got it.  He never brought the "B word up again.  
     Below is a quote from Dr. Sylvia Rimm, a Child Psychologist who specializes in need of gifted children:  

     10. "The word “boring” can be a descriptor of a variety of problems, including lack of challenge, fear of challenge, insecurity that others are doing better, thoughts that their teacher doesn’t likes them, or half a dozen other problems."

     This comes from a Duke Digest where Dr. Rimm discusses how we should listen to what gifted children DON'T say.  The URL is below and was Tweeted by Byrdseed Gifted:
  (Thanks for the Blog idea!)  

     I was glad to read this.  Ironically, now that I teach only gifted kids, the "B" word comes up way less often.  But occasionally I have a student, especially at the beginning of the year, who complains of being bored to his or her family.  It usually turns out to be bravado, the 'ole syndrome of feeling inadequate and knowing that using that dreaded word "Bored" will get the families' attention.  And it really does!  The family usually thinks, WOW, my child is in Gifted and STILL bored!  Now what do we do!!!!  And what they do is come to me, of course.  This is a good thing, as I can show them what the problem might be - whether it's math or reading.  It's almost always not really a problem - it's the student's worry that they aren't matching up to their peers.  
     Another quote from Dr. Rimm's article states, "In order for gifted children to build the resilience required for leading fulfilling adult lives, they will have to learn to cope with some less successful experiences. Because they have often been extraordinarily successful, coping will not always be easy for them. Parents and teachers who listen to what children say, as well as to what they give clues about but avoid saying, are better able to guide and support them as they develop confidence and resilience."  

     If you're the parent of a gifted student, don't always believe the "B" word.  Do some detective work.  I find that almost all of my students lead such a rich "inner life" and love to read so much, that they really don't get bored.  Something else is at work.  As Dr. Rimm said, we need to listen harder to them.  

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