Is Learning Boring?
( By Lee Xin Hong Form 4S1 )
Is learning boring? To me, learning can be fun or boring. It all depends on how we perceive learning to be in our life. Learning can get boring when learning is only all about memorizing facts or regurgitation. In fact, if we learn only by memorizing or rote-learning, then we are not learning at all! All we are doing is just to put some stuff into our head and try to keep or ‘close’ it so that it will not ‘spill over’. This is not the right way to learn!

Learning is a process, it is not an end product by itself. It is about the way you come along. It is lifelong. Everything you see, everything you do, your brain will process it. Thus, the more you see, the more you do, you will know how to do it or know what you are doing and that is what I think learning should be about.

In some learning experiences where the student’s idea is only to obtain a certificate by sitting through classes, tuition and examinations with little interaction or thinking, then learning can be not only boring but meaningless. However, from what I have read and learned from my English teacher, there are students in some countries such as Finland, America, New Zealand and Australia, who are learning like this:
‘Yesterday, there was a tsunami in Japan. In their Geography class, they will learn what causes a tsunami and how it happens. During Physics lesson they will learn about the mechanics or forces that cause a tsunami to happen. Then, in Biology class, they will learn how tsunami affects the ecosystem. As for their Mathematics lesson, they will learn how to work out the statistics to study future occurrences of tsunami.’

From the above illustration, we can see that what they learn in their classrooms is related to real life experiences or current issues. They learn through active participation in the classroom and their classes are not boring because everything that they learn in school is related to the real world and their life experiences. In this way, they will find learning interesting, meaningful and purposeful.

‘Learning is boring!’ This is a common cry among students who sleep through their classes because they are too tired working or playing video games the night before to do anything else in class, let alone participate or concentrate. As a result, nothing interests them except to catch up on their sleep in class! Under such circumstance, how then, can there be any form of learning in the classroom for them?

Did I mention video games a while ago? Well, video games are not always bad because there is such a way of learning known as game-based learning as practised in some countries where twenty-first century learning is being promoted. In this situation, learning is definitely not boring! For instance, in a class in the USA, game-based learning is made a compulsory subject for the students. The application software used for such classes is ‘Minecraft’. This is what the learning scenario in the classroom is like:
‘The game is called ‘Minecraft’. In this game, the student player can first create a scene or situation. For instance, they will learn how to build houses, craft items, hunt animals in the forest and survive harsh environment while playing the game. The students will learn how to make tools, how to build houses from scrap and look for suitable materials as well as how to survive from zombies at night. The zombie part in the game is a metaphor. The creator of Minecraft, Notch said, ‘The zombies in the game mean difficulties and challenges we meet in real life. Sometimes you must deal with it and of course sometimes you will fail in your venture. But then, you must not give up, start all over again and eventually you will get through all your obstacles.’ This is life advice from game-based learning. Now, who says that learning is boring?

Learning is not always about the books. There are many things to learn in life, too, such as driving a car, taking care of patients or saving the environment. These are some of the things you need to learn in life. In this case, do you think that learning is boring? Everything needs to be practised and done by us several times before learning how to do it to the fullest. Learning is also about risk-taking but it can be fun for it all depends on how we look at it!

Learning is a lifelong journey. There is no shortcut to learning. The only easy way to learn is to embrace every knowledge you gain through the process of learning that you get to experience. Do not stop to look at how much you have done for if you do so, you will become satisfied and will not move on, as Steve Jobs said, ‘Stay hungry, Stay foolish’. What he meant was be ambitious, strike out and take risks. In other words, don’t stop learning. Learning is not boring. Be brave and learn to take risks in your learning. Ultimately, it all depends on us, to see learning as an abyss or a paradise!