I used to think I had a brain. This brain dealt with everything. Getting up, getting dressed, feeding myself, going to school then work, getting home, going to bed – and everything in between. Whether it was making me take a particular driving route to school due to weather or traffic or it was making me choose one flavour of ice-cream over another, my brain was both analytical and creative. A brain that could do many things.
Having started another stretch of Christmas (Summer) holidays, about six weeks of school-related work replaced by what I consider to be the usually more traumatic experience of family-related negotiation, preparation and execution of well-targeted presents, events and experiences. My brain does not shut off. However, it was a different kind of brain, I would say to myself, a brain filled with shopping centres and pub lunches during the day and ‘school nights’ where I don’t have to leave early to wake up on time and mostly conscious the next day. But surely that’s a different kind of thinking?
I then started to think that I somehow left one brain at work for the holidays and woke up on Holi-Day 1 with a brain last seen the previous summertime. The holiday brain had a new rhythm, different goals and certainly its own priorities. It was much more relaxed about doing stuff by a certain time of day, it liked going for coffee (in my case, hot chocolate) rather than doing chore #5 right now.
But then two things happened. 1) I got an iPhone and 2) Twitter became a regular feature of my PD and PLN communications.
Both these things have forced my ‘work’ brain to now stretch out over the holidays and for my ‘holiday’ brain to somehow seep into term time. Being able to check important (and not so important) emails as easily as an SMS; being able to organise events like those for TeachMeet Sydney or ICTENSW in the time it takes to write a funny FaceBook status update; being able to have asynchronous conversations that stops and starts, ebbs and flows depending on when I get back to it; all these things have blurred the wall that once separated the worlds of my two brains.
Of course, this post is bleeding with irony considering I am talking about ‘work stuff’ on a day where probably the most intense thing I will have to do is decide in which order I put the garbage out or read another chapter of the book I’m leafing through (‘A Blink Of The Screen’ by Terry Pratchett).
I’m not sure which of my two brain theories is true. Neuroplasticity certainly tells us that we do only have one brain – and I tend to trust people who have actually knocked open someone’s skull to check – but that it is definitely not a static and concrete entity. It can stretch and bend and change, reconstruct damaged areas or transfer activity to more active parts. Are our brains responding to the ever-present nature of technology-supported communication and learning? What kind of brain will our students have? Will our 8.30-3.30 schools be enough to satisfy and inspire and develop the minds of students who only know a 24/7 world?
I used to think I just had a brain. Now I think I have something else.
If you need me, I’ll be in the recliner… reading (iPhone not too far away).
Merry Christmas & Seasons’ greetings everyone!