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How do teachers tell the difference between depressed students and bored students?

Answers:1   |   LastAnswerAt:2009.12  

Asked at 2009.12.22 02:46:43
Like how would a depressed student act compared to one whos simply bored with the subject or bored in general. What are the differences in their behaviour? B/c im just curious to know...
answer neniaf  Answered at 2009.12.22 02:46:43
Depressed students may, in fact, BE bored, since they would have a hard time concentrating. The only way you could tell (if you had psychological training) would be to talk with them. I also try to observe students' behaviors with me v. their behaviors with their friends. If a student is animated and outgoing with friends, then slumps in his/her seat and looks glazed over, it is obviously the class which is the problem, not a general depression. If the student appears to be isolated, or avoids friends and others in the classroom, in addition to looking bored, it may very well be depression.

I was observing a class the other day (to evaluate the instructor) and noticed a young woman who looked deeply depressed. Not only was she disengaged, but she had kind of an anguished look on her face. Interestingly, the professor, when I spoke with him about the class afterward, mentioned this particular woman as being a concern for him, because she had no confidence in herself. That would be another sign of depression, and my sense is that we need to put her in touch with our counseling center.

Even if we ignore the possibility that clinical depression can result from a mere chemical imbalance in the brain, we never really know what is going on in a student's life outside of class. That is why it is important for a teacher to try to engage and talk with students. They may not tell us the whole story (they are not obligated to do so), but we have to give them the opportunity to do so if they choose to take it.
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