I have written before (Nov. 25th) about how our memory can “flashback” to things unrelated to the triggering incident. The immense capacity that we have for remembering things, the instant linkage, is astounding. The brain links to certain things OH so much faster than even my new Pentium.
A few years ago, my husband happened to find in a thrift store a box of “Spick and Span” floor washing powder. Now this happens to be the brand that my mother used as we were growing up.
As I poured the powder into a half-bucket of water, the smell of pine hit my nose, and instantaneously I was felled by a wave of longing: HOME. Now I had not smelled that washing powder for some thirty years, but the connection was intact, and instantaneous. Amazing.
I was once at a conference held by the “Feuerstein” center of Jerusalem. This center works with individuals with all sorts of learning difficulties, using the method of instrumental enrichment and mediated learning. A speaker attending from overseas (Germany, I think), gave a very interesting presentation. He had worked with a child who had suffered a terrible amount of brain damage; the brain scan showed severe areas of impairment. Using the Feuerstein methods, he was able to help the child improve’ using the scant number of working areas the child had left in his brain.
The point of all this is the awe that I feel when contemplating the vast resources of the brain, and the idea that we dare challenge ourselves, and our pupils, to use it. And if the front door is closed, we have to investigate and try and find the side entrance.