Many of my students suffer from what I like to call: "boredom rage." They are so angry that everything makes them feel bored and they are so bored it actually enrages them.
When I watch these students I try to imagine what it's like to walk in their shoes. Simply stopping the effort of work is not helpful - for one student I took an entire class period simply to address his boredom rage and left it to him to decide what the activities for the day would be. I turned over the power to him and explained that since he didn't like the subject matter (math) and didn't like the style of the class (part whole group lesson, part individual problem solving, part team activities) and didn't like the length of the class time (80 minutes) that, just for today, he could decide how we learned and even what we learned.
It made him even angrier. He repeated over and over, "there's nothing to do here. There's just nothing to do." The only thing that helped was humor. The whole class began to see that no matter what was offered, (free time, a movie, drawing, and then back to really challenging work, lecture, worksheets and a project) it just wasn't interesting, it wasn't, well, anything.
In attempting empathy and putting myself in his mindspace, I discovered that the restlessness was something akin to depression. Anhedonia is the term used to describe an inability to experience pleasure. While in its extreme form depression can be crippling, in less dramatic ways, it can simply suck the value from people, situations, from life itself.
In questioning this process I took a look at value itself. How do we imbue things, people, and objects with value? How do we determine whether a person is valuable or not? The whole notion of calling someone a "loser" means they've lost their value, doesn't it? And if someone is worthless, what are they supposed to do?
Religion teaches us that no human being is worthless. But what if you aren't religious? Assigning meaning and value to people leads to respect, understanding and a strengthening of a sense of community. When we're struggling for power and control, we automatically de-value others.