The benefits of being bored…


How many times have you heard these words from your child:

“I’m bored.”

As a parent of three sons, I can understand how relentless the demands are to try and keep your children active, occupied and engaged with the activities that you have carefully planned for them. who wouldn’t want to try and make your family holiday as exciting as possible/ Or to make the home time during mid-term break as interesting as possible?

It turns out, though, that what might seem a great idea and good parenting might be actually inhibiting something that we are trying desperately to encourage in our kids: creativity.

Recent research has shown strong links between the perception of “boredom” in children and the importance it plays in instilling creativity.

As this blogger explains:

“Sporting, musical and other organised activities can certainly benefit a child’s physical, cognitive, cultural and social development. But children also need time to themselves – to switch off from the bombardment of the outside world, to daydream, pursue their own thoughts and occupations, and discover personal interests and gifts..”

This short video and article published by the World Economic Forum outline a few interesting points to consider.

Screen Shot 10-12-18 at 11.02 AM

Any time you are heading into a week of rest and respite from the demands of formal learning, I would encourage you all to think about how much you may be trying to “cram” into the holiday next week. Is there time for your child to experience boredom and further their development of enquiry and resilience and creativity?

Screen Shot 10-12-18 at 10.17 AM

I absolutely understand how demanding parenting is… but maybe some of those demands are ones we are placing on ourselves in pursuit of “entertaining” our kids and keeping them from becoming bored – which might be just the thing they need to help them grow into the creative and innovative leaders of tomorrow!


Keeping the motivation high!

iStock-535450666-1020x627One of the things that teachers spend a lot of time considering is how to keep students motivated and engaged with their learning. This is not as easy as it sounds – just ask any adult volunteer at a kids’ party or a sports club training day! One solution, which many people implement for short-term benefit and exigency, is to use a system of rewards.

Short-term solution, kids happy, job done!


Fostering extrinsic rather than intrinsic motivation can often be disastrous in the long run, as these researchers have found out. One famous research project involved an experiment into the “overjustification effect”,  in which extrinsic rewards can often have the reverse effect on motivation in the longer term.

The researchers first observed a preschool classroom for baseline observations and found that drawing was one of the most popular activities. They wanted to test intrinsic versus extrinsic rewards, so they put out felt-tipped markers (a big treat) at the art table and told one group of students that if they chose drawing during free play time they would get a certificate with a gold seal on it. A second group was not told about the reward, but after making art they received one. The third group was neither told about the rewards nor received one. After a week or two, the researchers again put out the felt-tipped markers and observed from behind a one-way mirror what activities the children chose to play with on their own.

Children in the reward condition chose to draw much less during a three-hour play period than either of the other two conditions. What happened? The researchers posited that “The certificate replaced the satisfaction of drawing. When there was no more reward, the kids didn’t want to draw. And, interestingly, when kids were being rewarded for their drawings, they produced less creative work.”

This is definitely a complex challenge to overcome, as even the simplest of verbal feedback could be perceived by students as, and become, an extrinsic motivational factor! Sometimes strategies put into play with the best intentions have unexpected outcomes!

* Source:

In this web article from Katrina Schwartz at MindShift, students from a selection of schools whose focus was on creating a culture of deep learning and engagement, were asked about what it takes to create a culture of learning that “…fosters creativity, collaboration, trust, the ability to fail, and perhaps most importantly, [a culture] in which students want to participate.”

screen-shot-2017-09-22-at-4-02-01-pm.pngThey described six key aspects:




Take a look at the article and see how these students describe the optimal conditions for their own engagement and motivation!



Dare you to move.


I have been involved in digital innovation in schools for a long time now. There are so many exciting ideas and approaches that have developed in the last 10-15 years. The advances we have made in the area of pedagogy and learning design with technology have helped to transform the way we teach and the way students are approaching their learning. Technology underpins many important emerging visions for modern learning. It is one of the core “deep learning” skills identified in Michael Fullan’s groundbreaking “New Pedagogies for Deep Learning” project.

Image: iPad Curious Learners by Fancy Jantzi, on Flickr
Image: iPad Curious Learners by Fancy Jantzi, on Flickr

Billions of dollars have been spent around the globe in education to improve infrastructure, upgrade technology training and increase access to devices for students in a variety of ways. There are many frameworks which have been developed which focus on marrying good pedagogy and learning design with effective technologies. It is not good enough just to put technology in front of our kids and think that they can do it themselves. Our kids are fearless risk-takers when confronted with new tech – but they often need a lot of guidance and support to use technology to improve their learning – that’s where we are ideally placed to have the most impact!

And yet there are still many teachers and leaders who have a view that technology is an added extra or even a “distraction to real learning”. We talk about our “digital natives” in a way that implies that this revolution is about them and not us. There are many ways that we can enhance the learning of our students by the use of technology – but there are also some exciting ways that we can improve the way that we carry out our roles as teachers.

Technology is still an area where many teachers feel hesitant, under-skilled, disempowered and even fearful – but it doesn’t need to be that way! It is way past time that we lived out our vision for our kids for ourselves. Here are three easy steps to take:

  1. ACCEPT that this is a part of your teaching toolkit that you can longer afford to be light on. It’s here to stay and it is becoming increasingly important for you to have these skills to be able to contribute positively in your teams and not be a burden on others.
  2. BUILD on our existing strengths and knowledge – choose technology use and digital strategies that you know will enhance learning based on research and your understanding of how kids learn. After all that’s what schools and students need to make it successful – teachers who can apply and filter these initiatives through a lens of pedagogical expertise! If you have a growth mindset, apply it and supercharge your tech initiative.
  3. CONNECT with other teachers who can support your skill development and who will benefit from your ideas and input. Working together is part of what we do as a profession and we are seeing many exciting developments in team-based approaches to teaching in modern learning spaces which are fantastic for teachers to be continuously developing and honing their craft alongside their colleagues. A personal learning network is only a few clicks away – social media is a rich source of wisdom, encouragement, innovative new ideas and support for any teacher who needs it. Don’t just sit and wait for the next course to be offered to you – go out and design your own learning by accessing the global network of educators who are more than willing to lend a hand!

Is it time you got your passport out and shifted your mindset? Become a digital immigrant.

I dare you.

inquiry & advocacy