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by Diane Kollman
Boredom is an oft-misunderstood art. Technology allows those of today’s generation to constantly occupy their minds with some form of entertainment, whether they be standing awkwardly in an elevator or enduring the process of defecation (Kollman, 2016). Children of today simply do not know what it means to be bored, and our education system must work to preserve this dying craft.
Two major misconceptions endure in the public sphere regarding boredom. Opponents may argue that kids are already intimately familiar with boredom, but this is a gross oversimplification, as claims without evidence are worthless (Navarra, 2015). Boredom goes beyond the simple idea of “doing nothing.” Practitioners must learn the proper techniques; there is a clear difference between lying in bed all day and sleeping. Others may believe “boredom comes from a boring mind” (Metallica, n.d.). This argument also relies on fallacious reasoning, as it assumes that a “boring mind” is an undesirable attribute.
American culture was founded on the idea of boredom (U.S. Constitution, 1787). When I hear my grandparents speak of pine cone collections and hoop rolling, I yearn for those simpler times, when the art of boredom was as natural as the corn growing in the fields. Our children waste countless hours opening slews of Wikipedia tabs on the political strategy behind WWII when they could be doing nothing! Truly, the youth of today have little appreciation for the finesse of a thoughtless life. Did George Washington live without boredom? Did Abraham Lincoln? Of course not (God, 164 BCE). The leaders of tomorrow must learn to appreciate boredom as our forefathers did.
Boredom not only holds historical significance, but also possesses great artistic merit. Andy Warhol was the paragon of the art form in the 20th century, composing masterpieces such as Sleep (1963), a five-hour film depicting a man at rest, and Empire (1964), which features silent footage of the Empire State Building across an eight-hour period. Unlike acrylics or clay, boredom is an emotional medium. Elegant in its simplicity and powerful in its message, the genre remains relevant in any era.
Educators should aim to cultivate boredom in the classroom. A sample curriculum may include analyzing the intricacies of drying paint, watching golf tournaments on an infinite loop, and conducting daily group PowerPoint presentations. Required readings should be treatises on the subject of boredom, such as Windows 98 operating manuals, the first two-thousand pages of the Internal Revenue Code, and tedious argumentative essays. True ennui can only be obtained through first-hand experience, so field trips to the DMV and airport security lines are strongly encouraged.
Boredom is an important form of artistic expression with deep cultural roots that faces extinction in the 21st century. Our children—and society at large—can only stand to benefit from the revival of this lost art.