Friday, April 17, 2015

Grey Matter.

Midway through the afternoon, my cellphone chimed with a text message.  I rarely have the phone even in my classroom, as the reception is sketchy and the battery drains very quickly as it searches for signals, but somehow this message caught my attention.  It was a message from a former student with a link and a message reading "I remember the book we read in gifted about Einstein's brain so I thought you might like this.  :)

That student graduated three years ago.  

I love that the weird stuff that we discover in Giftedland stays with my people long into their future lives, and that they sometimes reach back to make connections!

Grey Matter.

Sure, the book told the odd story of Einstein's brain being returned to family members, after a cross country ride in the trunk of a Buick.  Obviously it's an odd enough premise to warrant some brain cells connecting to the past when the link above was discovered years later.  

As often happens when seemingly random things happen in my classroom or life -- and it seems like much of my life functions in a random fashion until I take a giant step back and see the connections -- I happened to come across this text and link while sitting with a student headed to college next year, and interested in neurosurgery.   While I doubt that she has ever considered the scientific value or possibility of Einstein's brain, she indulged me as I read the article to her.

Kids like to think.  I'm hoping they like to think a bit more metacognitively this year after all the reflecting on thinking that we've done.  I also know that they are more than willing to think about each other.  This week, the annual nominations for the "Grey Scholarship" started rolling in.  The scholarship, awarded to a graduating senior who "assisted in creating a positive learning environment, fostered the most advanced abstract thinking in classmates, and served to challenge those around him or her to explore new and different paths to understanding," is awarded based solely on the nominations of his or her peers.

I know the future is in good hands, as I read nominations with comments such as these:
  • "...she is always thinking outside the box, whether it's during discussion or solving a problem she always has something new and thought-provoking to say."
  • "...he always listens to other people and their points of view.  He never forces his opinion on them."
  • "... she is a very kind and accepting of every individual.  She radiates positivity in everything she does."
  • "He may read the weirdest books, but I think he learns from them.  ... he provides both an enlightened and sometimes demented perspective that makes me question what I know or what I think I know..."
  • "... inspires me to be the most peaceful person I can be.  She makes me think more creatively and positively in everything I do..." 
  • "...can definitely make people think.  He has a creative imagination and can easily influence anyone... he brings people out of their shells and easily gets the day going."
  • "...I like how he challenges other people's opinions and makes me reconsider things..."
  • "...he consistently fosters new and creative conversation and thoughts in those around him.  When he introduces a new idea, he makes sure that his view on the topic is not known so as to not influence his peers' opinions so he can value opposing opinions and considers them and in this way grows his own knowledge..."
I don't imagine that any brain will be dissected and shipped to expert scientists for study in the same way that Einstein's was, and I daresay that's okay.  Certainly the unscientific way in which the Einstein brain was studied was both flawed, and less than honorable for someone who contributed so much to our world.  

I am happy, however, that the brains entrusted to me are stopping to spend some time to recognize the brains around them that have made a difference in our little corner of the world.  And I hope that three years from now a voice from the past reaches back to make me think.

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