Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What Really Goes on in their Heads!

With all the incredible teaching we do, teachers expect their students to pay rapt attention. Do you think that is what really goes on in your class? Do you have students who do not seem to be paying attention and do you wonder what is going on in their heads? Well the good news is that something really is going on. According to physician and philosopher Raymond Talli in this Daily Mail (England) article "From blushing to laughter fits, discover what REALLY goes on in our heads". all sorts of interesting things go on inside the human brain.

The human head is fascinating on many different levels. Once you remove it from your body (not an easy task according to the article) it weighs about 11 pounds (sans hair) or about 8% of your total body weight. That is an interesting math fact for you to consider.

We breathe through some holes in our head but most of the work is done in the lungs. Once the air enters the head we do some interesting things with it as it passes by. We speak, we sneeze, we laugh. Take laughter. Did you realize that even when your class is laughing they follow some consistent conventions. Once a laugh has started it tends to stay with that same vowel sound: "Ha-Ha-Ha" not "Ha-Ho-Ha". If you think your class has the sillies, wait until you hear about the school in Tanzania that had uncontrollable fits of laughter. It spread into the community and lasted two years. We also laugh 30 times more often when we are with others than when we are by ourselves. Which makes me wonder as to just why my class never laughs at my jokes. You would think I would have a better success rate in a crowd.

If you think your class doesn't listen, at least take into account that something important is happening in their ears: ear wax! You can even trace your ancestry through your ear wax: "While people of European and African origin usually have earwax which is wet and honey-brown, a genetic mutation thousands of years ago ago resulted in most Asian people - as well as native Americans and Inuits who have Asian origins - developing earwax which is dry, flaky and grey. Indeed, it has proved possible to track human migratory patterns, such as those of the Inuit, by looking at earwax type." Sometimes I think some students have a little too much ear wax. There has to be some reason for their lack of listening.

Noses also do interesting things. According to the article humans do smell fear. That sort of explains what happens when a substitute is in your classroom! Human noses can detect about 10,000 different odors. Unfortunately many of the strangest smells do turn up in my fourth grade classroom at various times.

Every time a student yawns in your classroom, you can rest assured they they are one more yawn closer to the 250,000 yawns they will make in their lifetime. It is true that when one person yawns 50% of the people nearby will also yawn. Don't you wish that if only one child listened to your lesson that 50% of the other children would involuntarily listen too?

Even though our faces can make 10,000 expressions, there are seven basic emotions that are expressed in the same way in every culture: sadness, anger, surprise, fear, enjoyment, disgust and contempt. You are born with these expressions as even people who are born blind naturally use these same facial expressions. Notice the absence of an emotion like alertness!

Rest assured that even on those days when you can't seem to get anything into your student's heads that at least there is something going on upstairs!

This entry has been posted at the 166th Carnival of Education.

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