Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Cells Are More Than Organelle"

Last year following graduation I wrote some praiseworthy comments about a remarkable student. Later that student found me and asked me to sign her year book. It became clear to me that another teacher who values me and my blog - who in the past has tended to have more honors classes than I do - made sure this student knew about what I wrote. Kind.

I also wrote about the other speakers last year, particularly a special (in the best sense of the word) girl whose father spoke and said what he had to, what was close to his heart.

"Last year*, researchers studied 34 students at the University of Virginia, taking them to the base of a steep hill and fitting them with a weighted backpack. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others were alone. The students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness of the hill. And the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared."

That story was told by a student speaker at graduation last year, and I wrote it up. It comes from a piece by Tara Parker Pope, who I quoted recently, and who seems to write all the Times articles that really appeal to me.

A year's gone by. Wow, sigh, and yes it really has. Tonight was graduation. Again. A student quoted Longfellow: "Lives of all great men remind us that we can make our lives sublime" (From A Psalm of life).

Another student said that people lop math and science together but there's one seldom noted, but blatant, distinction between math and science. In science the sum is greater than the whole of its parts. This truism has become a cliche' and is oft bandied about but it definitely not not apply to math. He applied his grade in school being a group of individuals who connect with each other in such a way that they become a greater whole, a community. he added that they even (sic) formed bonds with teachers.

A third student , who I've known since she was 10, spoke beautifully (without looking at notes). She told the story , which she encountered for the first time this year - as a passage in Brachot about ill Rabi Yochanan being healed by Rabi Chanina. The Gemora explains that Rabi Yochanan could not use his own holy powers to heal himself because, "Ein chavus motzi atzmo mibeit ha'asurim - a captive can not free himself from prison." She said that as autonomous as a person may be, we all sometimes simply need the help of others. She concluded with the hopes that for the most part students have tools to continue to develop their minds, souls, and selves. Well put. And amen.

* now two years ago


Post a Comment

<< Home