When one talks about The Glory Years we typically refer to those times in our past that are remembered for great success or happiness. Maybe it’s your 20s, 30s or even your 50s. Most people probably don’t think it’s when they were a toddler.
However, the years from 2-7 are when our brains are best primed for learning — so, from a learning perspective these are indeed The Glory Years.
The first critical period of rapid brain development happens around ages 2 to 7 — the second and final one happens during adolescence. Between the ages of 2 and 7 the nerve connections between brain cells (called synapses) actually double in number, accelerating learning. After age 7 the brain begins to ‘trim’ its neural connections to focus on the areas most useful for daily life. So, it’s during the early years that learning things like languages, interrelationships between concepts, and the mastering of physical tasks like running or riding a bike happen with greater ease.
If you are familiar with Albert Einstein, the extraordinary scientist from the early part of the 20th century, you may also know that his childhood was anything but normal. He struggled to even speak as a young child, and had some significant issues in school including being expelled. But, as difficult as his early years were, he was incredibly successful in some areas such as playing the violin, studying magnetism, and being able to think in pictures rather than words. His well known adult accomplishments can likely be tied to his diverse childhood experiences.
Numbers are a great place to start a conversation. While they never tell the whole story, they do offer a launching point.
Take a look at the ones above.
They represent some statistics on an important topic — a part of a story from across our province and country. And while they don’t offer a complete narrative about the topic they do help to paint a compelling picture — a picture that reaffirms for me why schools need to be an important place of understanding and acceptance.
The topic I want to talk about today is also a polarizing one in our communities. My experience has shown that few people are without a strong opinion on the topic.
Let’s begin today’s discussion by looking at the two largest numbers …
The approximate number of persons in Canada who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or questioning (2021)
The approximate number of persons in Canada who identified as trans or non-binary (2018)
I say this with sincerity, because everything I learn exposes other things that I don’t know — new questions, new unknowns, new explorations. As Superintendent, this provides that ‘fire-in-my-belly’ for me to push ahead.
The opportunities to learn are limitless. There is no finish line.
Does increased knowledge translate into having wisdom? Are people who know lots of stuff necessarily wise?
Wisdom requires more than knowing a collection of stuff.
WISDOM results when one’s knowledge is blended with HUMILITY, REFLECTION and GROWTH.
Humility provides the mindset to truly understand your learning journey;
Reflection results when you process context and previous learning into your new learning; and
Growth happens when the knowledge you learn broadens your understanding.