We have made learning so boring

I think the schooling is just plain boring, that nobody in their right mind would do it. Then we have to manipulate which is one of the most frightening things, to feel that you’re being manipulated all the time instead of setting up an environment where kids can grow and learn by themselves. Being there, keeping them company.

Things to think about

Have you experienced boredom in your own schooling or in your child’s schooling?
Have you had opportunities to follow a child’s lead?  What was the result?
What things would stop you from following the lead of the child Bev talks about in the video?
How can you incorporate more opportunities where children know you are present and there to get them things they need in their learning?

Highlights from Playful Wisdom
by Michael Mendizza featuring Bev Bos and Joseph Chilton Pearce

Pleasure Bonds: “Ouch, too hot,” said Goldilocks—pain. “Ouch, too cold.” “Ahhhh, just right,” she said—pleasure. Pleasure and pain rest at the foundation of our development as human beings. We are drawn to and seek experiences that are comforting, pleasurable, and we avoid, withdraw from, sensations that are painful. Not very complicated, obvious, but we forget. Being social with children is very physical, sensual. Most everything we share with young children is grounded in sensation, feelings, looking carefully with great attention and empathy for cues that we are sharing the meaning of this moment together and the next. A quality of active meditation quiets the verbal mind-chatter, bringing into awareness all these sensations, inner and outer. Being with children is a spiritual practice, one of the best, self-changing and therefore life-changing, ever new. The child’s sensitivity awakens ours, which is, admittedly, pretty dull most of the time. The body is built to experience pleasure and of course pain. Pleasure and pain are forms of intelligence, attracting and repelling. The late neuroscientist Candice Pert, PhD, known for the discovery of endorphin, the pleasure receptor, described how we are hardwired for pleasure, happiness and joy. Feeling good must be good. Feeling bad is bad. Is it possible to relate with children in ways that never inflect psychological pain? Why would we do such a thing, but we do?

We have made lessons so boring, so demeaning.  Really I think the thing is just plain boring, that nobody in their right mind would do it.  So then we have to manipulate which is just one of the most frightening things in the world to feel that you’re being manipulated all the time, and then to get kids to do things instead of just setting up an environment where kids can grow and learn by themselves.  Being there, keeping them company.  One of my best stories is a little boy was kind of a crabby kid and he came to school and he was working on a project and he was really involved and I said to him, “Cody, do you need anything for this project?” and he said, “No, I don’t need anything.”  I said, “Well if you need me I’m here.”  He said, “Oh hell Bev, you’re always here.”  That’s a truth.

For a kid to know that there’s a adult that they can depend upon, an adult that will get them things if they need it.  I’ve got to tell you, one of the most amazing stories about a little boy, it probably is in the book, but he came to school and he leaned up against the door jamb and he said, “I need a head of lettuce,” and I said, “What kind?”  He said, “It doesn’t matter.”  And I said to him, I think a mother or father, and I said would you run to the corner store and get a head of lettuce?  He stood by the door and waited.  When they came back with the head of lettuce he put the head of lettuce in a bowl and he said, “Do you have any milk?”  Well fortunately we had milk.  He poured milk all over the lettuce, then he got food coloring, and he put food coloring all over it.  It really changed everything.  Then he said to me, “We need to put it in the microwave.”  And I said, “Well for how long?”  He said, “I’ll come with you.”

So we went in and he put the bowl in the microwave.  He said, “I think it’s done.”  He took it out.  It had changed a lot.  The lettuce was wilted and the colors had all mixed together and the milk was hot.  He fiddled with it.  He took the magnifying glass.  He played with it.  He took it apart and then he said, “I need a bad, a big plastic bag.”  I brought him a bag.  He put all of it in there and then we sealed it shut.  That night his father called me at home and he said, “Bev, what is this that you’ve sent home?”  I said, “That’s your kids project for the day.  That’s what he was interested in.  That’s what he wanted to know about.”  Now the interesting thing is to me nobody has ever done that since.  Nobody ever did it before.  Was it of value?  It was to him.  He was curious about what happens when you put milk and lettuce and food coloring.  Where would that come from?  Only from that deep place inside of kids where they’re just curious about everything.  He probably had lettuce the night before.  What would happen if you did all of this?  And those are the kinds of things that are just so important because that stuff is down inside a kid.  I can do this.  I can figure this out.  What makes this work?  What would this be together?