Should School Be Boring? John Taylor Gatto Says No!

I taught for 30 years in some of the worst schools in New York City, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: The work was stupid, it made no sense, they already knew it. They wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. Teachers didn’t seem to know much about their subjects and weren’t interested in learning more. And the kids were right: The teachers were every bit as bored as they were.

Boredom is the common condition of schoolteachers, and anyone who has spent time in a teachers’ lounge can vouch for the low energy, the whining, the dispirited attitudes found there. When asked why they’re bored, teachers tend to blame the kids. Who wouldn’t get bored teaching students who are rude and interested only in grades? If even that. Of course, teachers are themselves products of the same 12-year school programs that so thoroughly bore their students, and as school personnel, they’re trapped inside structures even more rigid than those imposed on the kids. Who, then, is to blame?

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