The brain has a few built-in survival techniques that allow us to learn passively, react instinctively and record events without even realizing we “saw the whole thing.” I say this as a retrospective look at last school year. It is very difficult to believe that we are in the second month of the 2013-2014 school year, yet here we are.
Students may find it very easy to believe that we are approaching the midway point of the first grading period. For some, this school year has passed at an excruciatingly slow pace. But, for other students, this year has moved so fast, it was hard to take in all of the special moments. After all, students can never know how special these fleeting moments truly are until they reach a point in life when they can really appreciate their youth.
Very often, students will experience a variety of things happening throughout the school day, but find it very difficult to recall any specific thing. Thus resulting in the response of “nothing really” when parents ask “What happened today at school.” Or, parents may ask, “How was school today?” to which students may respond, “It was alright.”
Through asking more specific questions, parents and students may come to realize that quite a lot occurred during school. It’s only that the things students consider mundane or ordinary do not make it to the forefront of their memory. If it doesn’t “wow” students, then it’s just another random fact to be filed and stored.
It is not until you get older that you learn, as my “Bigma” told me, “Why you have two ears, two eyes and only one mouth” – (to speak half as much as you watch and listen). What we see and what we hear can add a whole different dimension to how we store and perceive events. Our eyes may see a crash occur, but without the accompanying crash sounds, the whole event may not feel real. It’s almost like trying to watch a movie with no sound and no subtitles – how frustrating is that?
The value of trying to “hear” what you see lies in the mind’s ability to fill in the gaps. Some of the most memorable events in your life may begin as the most random and mundane occurrences. However, when everyone around you is present – I mean really in tune to what is going on – there can be such a magical connection that it is hard to describe to someone else.
So, whether you are at the game, in class, at dinner or just on the phone with someone special, give the moment your undivided attention. Listen to what’s being said and you may find yourself learning more than you ever anticipated. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, what are your ears, other than a hole in the side of your head?
Be Young! Have Fun!
Columnist Chris Dinkins is an educator and native South Carolinian. His viewpoint is based on personal, classroom and volunteer experiences. Send questions and comments about youth related issues to him at email@example.com.