School kids increasingly find traditional lessons boring

Kids raising their hands in class
Kids raising their hands in classPhoto: luminastock/DepositPhotos

The interest that school pupils in the Netherlands on average have in their school subjects as well as their average grades have fallen over the past years, according to a study among 170 thousand pupils in HAVO and VWO by study platform Qompas. The declining interest likely has to do with traditional lessons finding it increasingly difficult to connect with teenagers' rapidly changing world, Qompas director Boris Eustatia said to NOS.

Qompas asked pupils in the third class about their lessons and subjects and found that traditional classroom lessons can be experienced as boring. Qompass did not specifically research the cause behind the declining interest, but expects that lessons' struggle to keep up with developing technologies plays a role. The teacher shortage may also be involved. "Education is in a challenging period. That leads to a lot of canceled lessons, teachers with burnouts, and will translate into a lower rating of the courses", Eustatia said. 

Today's pupils are especially losing interest in some language subjects like French and German, and creative subjects like drawing and crafts. History, geography and economics are doing better, showing a slight increase in pupil interest. Gym and English remain popular subjects. And Qompas noted that girls are increasingly interested in science subjects like mathematics, engineering, physics and biology. Especially with mathematics, the difference between boys and girls is disappearing. 

The average grades for school subjects also decreased over the past years. In the past school year, the average grade of boys and girls decreased to a record low in both VWO and HAVO. Girls on average scored 6.74 in HAVO and 7.13 in VWO, while boys scored an average of 6.52 and 6.83 respectively in the past school year.

The grade decline is slight, but Eustatia believes it is an important trend to take note of. "There is no reason to panic immediately, children have an enormous career ahead of them after third year. But if you see a long-term decline, that should not continue."

According to Qompas, the explanation for the declining grades lies in the fact that HAVO and VWO attract more pupils than ten years ago, which can lead to a slight decrease in the average grade level. "Moreover, Dutch families are increasingly made up of dual-income households", Eustatia said. That leads to less time for parents to help with homework, which can result in lower grades, he said.