It is a sad reality that many students are bored in classrooms and quite uninterested in their studies. Their boredom is manifested by constant fidgeting, yawning, having a glazed look in their eyes or vacant expression on their faces. Some children prefer to sit at the back and read some other book or have hushed conversations with their class mates rather than lend an ear to, what they consider, the tediously repetitious and uninspiring subject matter being taught in class.
One main reason for their boredom is that a human teacher seems to be a very poor substitute for the extremely colorful and attention engaging computer games and television programs that seems to have bewitched our children. Children today are electronically-oriented and are finding it harder and harder to sit still for 45-60 minute long session and concentrate on subjects that seem to have little relevance with their everyday lives.
To be fair, how can long literary prose, historical dates and geographical facts vie for attention when every fiber of the child longs to eliminate aliens or race against the time to finish some ‘quest’ in the latest video games?
Matters are not helped by dry, uninteresting subjects and age-old text books that can make students drowsy and totally unfocussed. The problem is further exacerbated by most teachers who think their duty is to lecture the students for 45 minutes and leave the room once the bell rings. The students on their part have to listen to the monotonous lecture passively with little or no input at all.
Teachers with bland subject presentation and personality can make even the best students apathetic towards the lessons. Many teachers in our schools have been teaching the same subject and imparting the same information to students for many years. All these ingredients are a perfect recipe for educational disaster that seems to be looming in the horizon for our next generation of students.
So how can teachers and parents combat this malaise of boredom that engulfs our children as soon as the words ‘school books’ and school lessons’ are mentioned? Children have to learn history, geography and literature whether they have an avid interest in these subjects or not, otherwise they would not have a sound, all-inclusive education.
One of the best ways to make sure that students take interest in the subject matter is to involve them in class discussions. Students can be asked in random order to read portions of the book to keep them alert. Small group discussions should be allowed and each group should have the responsibility of explaining their portion to the rest of the class in form of impromptu presentations.
One excellent way to make sure that children read the chapters thoroughly is to ask each child to prepare quiz questions or MCQ test for one other child in class. The quiz papers should then be distributed to the children and checked by the ‘teacher’ who prepared them in the first place. Besides going through the lesson thoroughly, this will give the children an opportunity to appreciate the efforts of the teachers too.
Another way to make subjects interesting is via personification. Teachers can divide the class in small groups and each group can represent the subject under study. For example if studying geography, groups of students can act as mountains, rivers, volcanoes, deserts, forests etc and give presentations to their class. Children can also act as historical figures to make history come alive. The rest of the class should have the opportunity to ask questions (which they can do only if they have studied the desired chapters beforehand).
Snippets of interesting facts (not found in the books) add some spice to the subject. Teachers should not rely on text books only but give children home assignments which involve use of internet and other resources for additional information. Colorful charts can be made by students to depict their lessons and displayed for extra marks.
If possible, students should be taken to field trips to museums, banks, parks, local hospitals, zoo etc not only for recreation but also practical lessons. People from fields of arts, science, agriculture and literature should be invited to class for lectures and group discussions.
On their part, parents must also limit the time they allow their children to spend online and encourage physical activities and outdoor sports. It is crucial that today’s children are taught how to think instead of what to think.
The onus is on school administration to make subjects relevant to everyday life so that children can eliminate dependence on rote learning for grades. Only by promoting creativity, problem solving and independent thinking can we make sure that children approach their studies with interest and a positive attitude.