Kevin Gary, Ph.D., professor of education at Valparaiso University, has published a book titled, “Why Boredom Matters: Education, Leisure, and the Quest for a Meaningful Life,” with Cambridge University Press.
“Unlike anger or fear, which are evident, boredom is often a ‘latent emotion’ that we respond to without realizing it. Gary said. “With this project, I’m trying to bring to light how we can cultivate a wise response to boredom.”
In his work, Gary outlines two common — and detrimental — forms of dealing with boredom in the classroom setting. The first is avoidance, wherein teachers attempt to outrun feelings of boredom via an endless stream of tasks and activities for students to participate in. The second problematic way of dealing with boredom is resignation— or the simple assumption that boredom is simply a part of life that we have to accept.
Instead of approaching boredom in these ways, Gary advocates for giving students the tools they need to approach the experience productively, transforming boredom into a more productive state of mind. His book addresses the methods of giving students those tools and how they may be applied.
On top of his research, Gary draws on his own extensive experience as an educational scholar, former high school teacher, and current professor. He also considers the ways that prominent philosophers have approached the topic of boredom.
“I’m interested in the problem of boredom because it’s linked to all kinds of other problems,” Gary said. “There’s research that correlates it with addiction, student misconduct, inability to listen, overeating, etc.”
An interview with Professor Gary on his book can be found here. A full synopsis and publication information can be found here.