The Best Kind of Back to School

Monday, October 1, 2012

I’m still amazed that for the first time in about 18 years I didn’t go back to school in September. Not as a student anyway. It was slightly terrifying when the schools in the States started back, but I’m getting used to the idea.

Last week I gave two lectures to the students at Pittsburg State University who were awesome enough to sign up for a course called “The Power of Music.” As an undergraduate, I had to work pretty darn hard to find interdisciplinary music/psychology/neuroscience courses, so it was really an honor to speak to these students.

My lectures were on two of my favorite topics in music cognition: hemispheric lateralization and musicians vs. non-musicians. I know it was a risk having someone with a heavy neuroscience background come into a classroom of students with varied backgrounds, but I loved the challenge of making the material accessible and engaging them in conversation. I had to go back to my first few years of college to explain the basics of neuroanatomy but then got to go into more of what I learned this year.

While describing EEG as a method, I included a picture taken during my research with Baby Bro.

When I finished my second lecture I was reflecting on the experience and described to Mom an important transition I felt. I experienced the shift from student to teacher most powerfully when I was asked a questions during my lecture. No longer did I feel tested or challenged, but I recognized the questioner was actually just interested. If I didn’t know the answer, it was something we could discuss together. I wasn’t being graded.

It was also incredibly liberating to talk about subjects I care about, and the experience made me realize that my future career (whatever that may be) should definitely include teaching in some capacity. And hopefully I’ll get to teach about brains sometimes too.

In related news, I’m gearing up to be the best substitute teacher Southeast Kansas has ever seen. I have an orientation this week and then they’ll throw me to the pups.

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