Yesterday I asked students to write in their journals about a warm up question that related to the Poe tale we were about to read. I knew they would finish at different times and, being a good teacher, I was prepared for that. I had provided them some links on the class blog that would give them some more background information about Poe.
Almost immediately a boy in the back called me over. "This looks boring," he said, pointing to one of the pages I had linked him to.
I agreed, but I hadn't sent them there to observe fabulous web design, just to get a little more info in the few minutes they had. I told him to suck it up, sometimes school is boring etc. and walked away. But I changed my mind as I took a step and went back. "OK," I said, "if that site looks boring find a better one. You have the whole internet in front of you find me something cool about Poe. Send me the link when you get it."
A few minutes later he called me over. "You've got to see this."
I walked to the back of the room and was immediately struck by how boring looking the page he showed me was. It had a small picture of Poe and a paragraph of dense small text. I chuckled and pointed out how "boring" that page seemed to me.
"But you've got to read it."
I did read it. The paragraph was about Poe. It described his gambling problems, his alcohol problems, how old his wife was when he married her and a few other salacious details of his life.
My student waited with a smug smile on his face for me to finish. "Yes, I said I know all of that. The pages I sent you to tell most of the same information."
"Oh," he said, a little deflated. "But, I didn't read those."
I reminded him that he shouldn't be so quick to decide something is boring before even trying to read it. He reminded me that information you find yourself is infinitely more interesting than information your teacher gives you, even when it is the same material.