Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What Is Creativity? - 24

In a recent "For Better or For Worse" comic strip, Elizabeth was told by her teacher not to use her fingers to answer a question in addition, but to use her head. I understand that we eventually run out of fingers for numbers higher than ten. That's why we invented the abacus—so we could manipulate pebbles or beads with our fingers to make calculations. And, of course, we still use our fingers to punch in numbers on our calculators.

And yet,"Don't use your body, use your head" describes our educational system. Yes, phys ed, supposedly "educating" the body, has been added (and subtracted) from time to time, but school still teaches us that learning is a head game.

Moving awkwardly from arithmetic to sex, here's something else I read this week:

The immune system is a marvel. Our innate immune cells recognize a problem and move immediately to our defense; adaptive immune cells are created to deal with a specific pathogen, and immune memory retains them for future use.

Our immune cells dramatically affect our lives in another way. In "A Sexually Aware Immune System?," by Gretchen Reynolds (The New York Times Magazine, October 25, 2015, p. 22), we're told that, in sexually active women, the female immune system responds to the reproductive system by increasing the level of immune cells that recognize and ignore nonhazardous foreign cells (like fetus cells) during the menstrual cycle. And, that the level of antibodies living in the reproductive tract varies during the cycle—as that level drops, the germ-fighting antibodies in other parts of the body rises.

On the male side, chemicals that communicate gender and reproductive status are picked up by nerve endings in our noses and go directly to the sexual regions of the brain. We’re not consciously aware of the odor, but we respond nonetheless.

Do you see why those two clippings—the comic strip and the "wellness" article—are lying in my Creativity folder? I believe that learning, as well as creativity, begins in the body. And the converse—that until we know what our bodies know, we'll never understand how our heads work.

1 comment:

  1. Another wise and thoughtful piece! Thank you for reminding me to listen to my body.
    I cringed when I learned that my 12-year-old granddaughter would no longer have free-flowing recesses at middle school. The entire day is programmed, even 'physical' education. Play can be the most creative time for all of us, especially for children.