Kevin Hood Gary

Dec 29, 2023

Why Boredom Matters

Education, Leisure, and the Quest for a Meaningful Life

Cambridge University Press 2022

Boredom is an enduring problem. In response, schools often do one or both of the following: first, they endorse what novelist Walker Percy describes as a 'boredom avoidance scheme,' adopting new initiative after new initiative in the hope that boredom can be outrun altogether, or second, they compel students to accept boring situations as an inevitable part of life. Both strategies avoid serious reflection on this universal and troubling state of mind. 

In Why Boredom Matters (Cambridge UP, 2022), Gary argues that schools should educate students on how to engage with boredom productively. Rather than being conditioned to avoid or blame boredom on something or someone else, students need to be given tools for dealing with their boredom. These tools provide them with internal resources that equip them to find worthwhile activities and practices to transform boredom into a more productive state of mind. This book addresses the ways students might gain these skills.

Kevin Hood Gary is a Professor of Education at Valparaiso University.

From reviews: 

‘Kevin Gary’s important and insightful book challenges readers to consider the moral and practical dimensions of boredom so that we might educate for lives of meaning. He gathers a range of sources from across time, traditions, and disciplines, and he puts these in conversation with our everyday experiences of boredom in the modern world, while also exploring ways that boredom has been written about and experienced in the past. It is an excellent book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.’--Jeff Frank 

Why Boredom Matters is one of those delightful books in which the author seamlessly draws from thinkers from across multiple disciplines such as education, theology, philosophy, literature, and pop culture. Søren Kierkegaard, Walker Percy, David Wallace Foster, Leo Tolstoy, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Dewey, Albert Bormann, Simone Weil, Josef Pieper, St. Benedict, Groundhog Day, and The Karate Kid all contribute to a richer understanding of boredom.’-- Elizabeth Amato

Adrian Guiu holds a PhD in History of Christianity from the University of Chicago and teaches at Wright College in Chicago.

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Adrian Guiu holds a PhD in History of Christianity from the University of Chicago and teaches at Wright College in Chicago.

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