Sunday, June 26, 2011

Brain Drain During the Summer

What are you doing this summer? I am doing what I have always done - work. I am also taking a class on Wednesday nights - Cultural Anthropology. My heart longs to be a full-time student again! I love the fast pace, the lectures, the assignments, the research papers, the mad dash to class from one end of campus to the other! I love being a student.

Summer seems to be the traditional time that students experience massive brain drain. Many primary and secondary school teachers will spend the first two weeks of class in August (or September) reviewing in order to get their students on the right track again. I would always do things like review multiplication tables, state capitals and spelling words during the summer to keep my children's brains from turning into mush.

How does one prevent brain drain as a non-trad? Most of us are not taking summer school classes. One word - READ!! Step away from the TV, video games, etc., and READ!! I reently purchased a Kindle for myself for my birthday. (I was told a Nook was better because you can check books out of the library with it, but Kindle is supposed to be getting that application soon.) I don't carry around a book, but I carry my Kindle with me. In some ways, it is more convenient than a book. However, I still love the feel of a book and I don't need to worry about the book's batteries going dead.

Reading exposes one to different vocabulary and ideas and often requires critical thinking skills in order to process the subject (being able to track with the characters or subject, tying ideas and processes together, etc.). Reading also increases one's imaginatiion. What does Homer Hickam's hometown look like? Can you smell the streets of Charles' Dickens' London? What's it like to stand beside Dr. Kay Scarpetta as she performs an autopsy? Can you sense the isolation of Soldier Island in Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None"? Can you feel the heat from the burning books in Ray Bradbury's "Farenheit 451"? Are you there with the first responders in "102 Minutes Inside the World Trade Center"?

Reading fiction takes one away to the world the author has created. I love fiction because it takes me to places I have not been to and might never go to. Reading non-fiction expands one's ideas of people, the world and the universe as a whole. From biography to self-help and how-to, science and the world of discovery. Reading opens doors and exposes one to so many different worlds. I love to read.

Even though you may not be taking classes this summer, that is no excuse to let your brain turn to mush! Pick up a good book for some prolonged reading. I would suggest NPR's reading recommendations or perhaps the NYT Best Seller lists. Those are good places to start.

What has been your favorite reading this year so far (besides a textbook)? I have enjoyed the Jefferson Bass books (fiction) as well as non-fiction ("The Fear" by Peter Godwin about Zimbabwe). I am currently reading Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None." My favorite books of all time are "Though None Should Perish", a medical account of Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery, and "A Sense of the World" by Jason Roberts - two historical non-fiction books. Hmm - a history major who loves to read history. Who woulda thunk it?

Take some time this summer to dive into a good book! It will prevent brain drain! Stay tuned . . .


Anonymous said...

I will be writing my MA dissertation this summer, I really hope my brain does not 'drain' away! Enjoy your break, I'm looking forward to seeing what you do next.

Groovymum said...

Oh yes I am reading Game of Thrones, been reading and watching it at the same time. I call it research as I am going to do a writing for television module for my degree. I am going to read more books that have been turned into television programs as I think this is what I would love to do when I finish my degree. I love my Kindle, just wish I had more time to read!

BTW, I wish I could study full time an get it done sooner! This summer is going to be so long!