Nature is an endless combination and repetition of a very few laws. She hums the old well-known air through innumerable variations.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I read these words I wonder how repetition can make life meaningful and interesting instead of letting ennui set in. If we learn to live like her, where is the question of getting imprisoned in our comfort zones? The best thing that we can do to beat ennui is to build anticipation and sustain the excitement about getting to learn or do something new like how she hums the old well-known air through innumerable variations. Every morning we wake up to a new life with lots of expectations; this keeps us motivated despite the whole process of living being repetitive. She never gets bored because she immerses herself fully in whatever she does, which is the underlying current keeping her motivated. If we understand this and adopt the same in our lives we will look forward to doing the same task with joy rather than resist it. The moment we start looking at repetition as our friend and enjoy its company it will help us fulfil our desires. As educators we teach the same topic/concept year after year, but still we enjoy and never get bored. Have you ever wondered what drives an educator to repeat the same thing without getting bored? I believe it is the thought that he/she will be interacting with a new set of young minds that sustains his/her enthusiasm making him/her enjoy the company of repetition. Let us teach our learners to look for new things every time and teach them to discover ways to repeat the core with variety. Teach them to explore enriching experiences instead of giving them a structured predefined experience in the name of learning outcome. We have always tried to stay engaged driven by the result instead of enjoying the journey, and this is the cause of ennui. If we can shift our minds from a result driven industry to an action driven one, the end result will be the creation of human minds which will never let ennui defeat them.
We are born focused. The moment a child is born the first thing it does is stare. It grows up looking at things around, observing and internalizing the happenings, which is one of the most important skills that a learner should possess. But as the child grows, this focus diminishes leading to ennui, which might, in turn, lead to frustration and depression. If we remind the learners that they are already experts in focusing and help them realize that staying focused will protect them from ennui, where is the question of disengaged learners? Let us embed our sessions consciously with simple activities that will sharpen their focus, making them enjoy doing any task, including something repetitive, with zeal. As we help them realize this super power that they own, we should also educate them to focus on the right things, for we don’t lack the skill of focusing, we just choose to use it inefficiently. Any act of ours to be engaging and effective should be connected with positive emotion, which will help us confront the tyranny of resistance, as our minds will always try to engage in every possible excuse or distraction leading us to the state of ennui. Let us discover ourselves and make our lives interesting without letting ennui take our peace.
The author is principal, SRM Public School, Chennai. She can be reached at email@example.com