Invigilated by Stranger

 

A complete stranger Invigilated me last night and didn’t even buy me dinner first! I had taken some preventative Panadol as I suspected it would be painful, still, I expected a little more humanity during the process. It had been many years since such an event had happened, so the memory was a little hazy about what to expect, and as most of the learning to date had been at a distance; this was my first trip to the University.

City Uni

As the Uni is up in the City (and I don’t get out much) I had prepared for the event by rubbing the sock marks off my legs and dressing appropriately…….after all, they say appearances count, so  the look I went for was  from country Ho-Bo to Bo-Ho; at least that is what I was aiming for, but may just have made it on one of those syllables……tis a long time since I was a student, but as it happens, I blended in just fine. A right motley crew of would-be brainy types.

he who must be obeyed

The head Invigilator, ( I forgot to mention he had brought his mates to watch) was obviously well versed in not smiling, or indeed  showing any emotion at all;  he had all the animation of a turnip with the colouring to match. Still, there was a quiet authority about him as he blew a few non-existent cobwebs from the PA mic and started  our relationship with the fore-amble…blah blah…safety, blah blah ‘one bell take note but don’t move’….blah blah ‘two bells Il see you in the car park’…..blah blah toilet…Wait, I should have listened to that more intently as this session was going to be for three and half hours….and then, with both arms pointing at the giant clock (in case we had somehow missed it) we were given the signal to do something with the neat pile of paper in front of us.

the watchers

This is when the head invigilators’ mates sprung into action; like silent snoops they drifted amongst us, checking our personals nick knacks (ID’s that we had been told to put on display….note to self..should have had a new pic taken for driver’s licence….) and checking pencil cases for illicit information that may have slipped in there in cryptic note form between the pens.

archaic

On the subject of pens, in this day-and-age why would we even be needing such a thing?…….why , since my last exam ( many moons ago) has there been no progress into the use of a simple (cheat proof) word processor for use in exams?……..what kind of  thinking has made exams the last bastion of writing by hand ?. Why not go the whole hog and give extra points for using other instruments with ascending degree of difficulty?…….extra points if you use a leaky Biro that has been through the wash; more if you adopt the blunt pencil and left the sharpener at home and top marks if you can struggle through the writing of ten pages using a quill and ink.

relief

And then, as if we had been transported by academic Tardis , it was over, and the neatest thing on the page was my name in the top corners. I was going to add a wee comment on the last page about my internal spell checker being broken, but the exam,Mr turnip head and his mates had fair sucked the joy out of me and it was 10pm; way past my funny bones sleep time. The turnip’s calls for ‘silence as papers were  collected’ fell on the deaf ears of  me and the rest of the rabble rushing to leave the scene of the cramped-hand crime. Cast out into the night and dreaming of a hot peppermint tea, there was just one final test in the day; where did I leave the car?

 *mindful  that we can all be doing the same thing, yet feeling it differently…and that there is life beyond the gumboot sloth so I should get out more 🙂

 

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Plastic Brain, No Preservative

Having a plastic brain is something we humans all have in common. Yes, I hear you…we all know some Numpty  you would swear just had sawdust in there, but nope, tis all plastic…… or we all have Neuroplasticity if you want the posh …ehmm….brainy version. It is only over the past few years that scientists have been able to conclusively overturn  the long-held theory that our brains were fixed and that was that. A point that is illustrated brilliantly in Norman Doidge’s book ‘ The Brain that changed itself’, in which he shows many life changing examples of brains (and real life people) that have transformed themselves following strokes and brain injuries to compensate for damaged areas; regenerating and altering to compensate.

So you see, the old saying ‘use-it-or -loose-it’ was onto something; well, it was if it was referring to the cranial department and not to where some people refer to others keeping their brains!……..lets drag our heads back from THAT department.

This all came to the forefront of mind (sorry for pun) this week as I undertook a course of study and initially my head felt like a blob of plasticine that had been left abandoned , and not played with for a while. So it was read, read, read… ouch!…..(squeeze, prod the blob, soften it up)…read, read, read, (flatten, stretch, pull, shape). All trying to wake it up and have it malleable enough to form new shapes or ideas.

When I started to apply mindfulness principles to what I was doing, it really felt as if some strands in my brain were, like cobwebs blowing in the breeze and struggling to find an anchor point of comprehension, to tell the rest of my head that it understood what I was reading! But after a while, like well worked Blu Tack, it became usable again, started to make connections and reason with new thoughts. Phew! I was relieved, as was starting to think my head may have turned into that nondescript brown blob of play dough seen in childcare centres at the end of the day, when the kids have mashed all the pretty colours together.

So, as I am just your average overachiever, I have set myself the ambitious task of moving the content of my head from Blu Tack to Memory Foam that fills my head! (I know, 2 puns in quick succession is probably too much, but sometimes unavoidable).

The trouble with our plastic brains is that it doesn’t really matter what end result  or brain format we are aiming for; because the brain changes its structure with each different activity we perform! It seemingly adapts itself like a super smart shape changer, perfecting itself to the arrangement best suited to the task.

Gosh….that makes you wonder what folks we refer to as Richard Head do with their time?!

So look after you brain and feed it wisely; with wholesome, new and varied  positive thoughts and actions. But remember to give it exercise as well, as you don’t want a nondescript , inflexible brown plasticine blob between your ears. Make it a beautiful , shape shifting sculpture. * was mindful of why meditation works, and learned there is a reason we say “my brain hurts” when concentrating on the hard or abstract…..it has a whole transformation to make!