Sunday, 20 January 2013

A sum of its parts: no more or no less?

So, I've joined an EVO session this year and decided to stick to it. Last year I gave up, because of the Blogathon - time management issues, but this year I'm persisting.

For those of you who don't know what an EVO session is, here it goes: EVO stands for Electronic Village Online. It's educators and scientists coming together to explore a subject for four or five weeks during January and February. Everything is free and everyone are welcome. There are workshops and discussions, sometimes live webinars, where people from all around the world share a learning experience or two - as you can join more than one EVO session, this year 10 are on offer.

I've joined Neuroscience in Education: Braining-Up Your English Lessons. Why? A part of me just wants to do everything at the same time, but it turns out I also had some mythical reasons. Puzzled? Well, let me explain. This little post of mine is not just a post. Every EVO participant needs to have a portfolio, so this is also the inaugural post of my first EVO portfolio. During EVO's week 1, we had to introduce ourselves with the basics of how brains work and some commonly accepted brain myths. It turns out - learning styles are something of a myth, as are multiple intelligences. I'm not sure if I like that. I grew very fond of learning styles and they helped me understand myself and my students better. I'll still give this a chance, maybe I learn even more.

There's another thing that struck me. In the material on Brain Basics (unfortunately I do not know the author or where it came from), I came across a very strong claim of what philosophy calls materialism:

All perceptions, thoughts and behaviors result from combinations of signals among neurons.

Sounds lacking in romance? No spirits or wonder? Well, judge for yourself:

If all of that is true, then do we know how a thought is formed? This opens door to so many unbelievable Matrix meets Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind possibilities. Can we actually plant a thought into someone's brain?

Here are some more brain myths - see how well you fare:

So there's my food for thought, my ideas to mull on and explore.

What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere. (Inception, 2010)

Are we JUST a sum of our parts? Are we a SUM of our parts? Or is there something more? Why introduce the more at all? And why not?

Well, no more or no less, I leave you with an anecdote on how wondrous whatever we are may be:

Teacher: What can we see in the sky?
Pupil One (8): A star!
Pupil Two(8): A moon!
Pupil Three(8): Pretty rainbows!
Teacher: Good job!! And what else!!
Pupil Four(8): A black hole!!
Pupil Five (8): No you can't see it with the naked eye - they're anomalies!!!!

Love to all,


  1. I have mistakenly deleted a comment to this post and cannot undo it - I'm really sorry about it, so I'll try to repost it now:

    mcmorrowsinead ( has left a new comment:
    I love your references to film in this blog and your quotations. Here's another one I like from the writer Doug Coupland; it kind of follows your comment on putting ideas in people's heads :D.

    "Try not thinking of peeling an orange. Try not imagining the juice running down your fingers, the soft inner part of the peel. The smell. Try and you can't. The brain doesn't process negatives."

    Thank you Sinead for reading and commenting!! I love the quote it's brilliant!!! :)))

  2. Hi Dora
    I like the way you embedded the myth link in your blog. Must try that myself.
    I also liked your story at the end very much. And yes, I think there is more than just the sum of the parts. That's where spirituality has answers that science doesn't even attempt.