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Given how frequently this concept is invoked to explain behaviour on either side of the contested classroom, it is surprising how little thought it has been given. John Berger suggests that it be understood as ‘an awareness of the slow death of one's faculties’, but this seems a bit protracted for school life. Medieval moralists named ‘accedia’ a mortal sin, and by this seemed to mean a despairing failure to find God's meaning in life. French symbolist poets of the late nineteenth century led by Baudelaire wrote of the ennui they suffered, which transpired in their poems as a kind of attitudinal listlessness towards the sameness of life's events, the dreary predictability of their emotions, and above all towards the moronic respectability and dull ...

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