I had a room full of high school junior and senior chemistry students working on a practice test today, and noticed one young man had not even opened his book – he had his Scantron answer sheet stuck in it as a bookmark. His arms were folded on the table in front of him, his chin resting on his arms. He was just staring blankly ahead. I walked over to his desk, and asked him what was going on.
“What do you mean, ‘what’s going on’”?
“I mean, why aren’t you working on the test”?
“Oh man. I just can’t do that right now. I can’t think. My head hurts. My head is all blocked, you know”?
“Tell you what. Open up the book and get started. The thinking part will do you good. Thinking is like sneezing for the brain”.
“It’s just like when your nose is plugged up; you sneeze, and get the gunk out – you can breathe again. Thinking does the same thing – it blows the gunk out of your brain so you can get ideas flowing again”.
Kid stares at me quizzically and I can see the wheels turning. Eyes still fixed on me, he reaches for his book, pulls out the Scantron sheet, then slowly turns his attention to the book and starts reading.
“You’ll see” I encouraged, “thinking will clear out your brain”.
As I walk away, I hear him say, with great earnestness, to the kid sitting next to him, “Is that ‘brain sneezing’ stuff true”?!
Guess he answered his own question.