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Boredom, Happiness, and Suffering: An Idealist’s Education Features 

Boredom, Happiness, and Suffering: An Idealist’s Education

Kirkegaard began with the principle that “all men are bores.” Of course, some men are more boorish than others, and the greatest tyrants and the cruelest nations have pushed history forward with their boredom. Any terrible weapon or horrendous crime has the unmistakable markings of bored and boring men.

“Boredom,” Kirkegaard concludes, “is the root of all evil. What is more natural than trying to overcome it?”

When we speak of education, we speak of something boring. High school, the old in and out from English to French to Math to Science – I’m even afraid discussing the subject may put us to sleep! – is fueled by the age old promise of emptiness.

It is not what I wanted for the children, who are already so easily bored. I would like to overcome their boredom. Life is suffering especially on weekdays, and we should have the decency to provide some entertainment.

I mean to suggest that there is so little intellectual value in a high school education, that we may have to begin critiquing it on the basis of pleasure. If students are not retaining substance, can’t we go through the trouble of making them happy?

Yet, happiness itself can be a crime. I have never met anyone more boring and intolerable, than the people who are stupid with happiness.

Here, then, is what my imagination proposes: I would like students to be able to rent bikes instead of going to class; I would like them to be challenged with carpentry and cooking; I would like more drama, art, and music; I would like lecturers and mentors, not teachers with fixed curriculums and pupils sitting in front of them at fixed hours; You would practice reading and writing, and otherwise learn the principles of democracy and ethics, how to protest and form unions, and a criticism of bureaucracy, imperialism, capitalism, and corruption (these being absolutely necessary to a responsible citizenry); it would be a short day with no homework.

Above all, there should be some principle of freedom at play in the education system. This freedom would allow students to pursue their own understanding of what makes them happy. At the same time, this freedom should occur in the confines of a system where they are limited to experiences that will better them, be it through physical, creative, or intellectual exercises.

A passionate second-look at our educational system, its principals and its practices, is the only answer to, what so far has been, the inescapable dictatorship of “to bore,” “to be bored,” and to be permanently “boring.”


Written by: Schoolmaster Samuel Helguero

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