Nexus Aliquis: In Pursuit of Efficacy, Resilience, and Full Potential

By Fallon, Paul D. | Adolescence, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

Nexus Aliquis: In Pursuit of Efficacy, Resilience, and Full Potential


Fallon, Paul D., Adolescence


The fields of neurology and physics, along with nature itself provide profound insights into the essence of learning. From a neurological perspective, careful analysis of the manner by which nerves operate yields strong implications for effective learning. Specifically, as the dendrite of a nerve receives the electrical impulse traveling through the axon (information or a fact in an analogy to learning), it is converted to a chemical neurotransmitter that, if successful, travels across the opening, or synapse (teachable moment), to a receptor (student comprehension) on an adjoining dendrite. Depending on the amount of neurotransmitter, inhibitors or catalysts in the synapse and the ability of the receptor to "uptake" the chemical, the impulse is conveyed, conveyed without sensation that we detect (like when taking aspirin to mask pain), slowed down (in the case of THC-cannabis sativa use) or canceled. Learning follows similar procedures where a teacher may have facts to convey. However, if the relationship is not established, the student may not be receptive, may acquire only a portion of the message or refuse to "take up," process, and store the new knowledge. Concisely, the relationship matters more than the facts, the teacher provider, and/or the student. To maximize performance success, astute teachers understand the value of the relationship or teachable moment.

Yet another example from physics confirms the value of relationships when examining molecules comprised of atoms that share electrons. They never actually touch, element to element. The sharing of space in which electrons rotate, bonding, is a connection essential to life's continuance. Once again, the relationship or bond is of higher priority than the elements connected. A practical example---when the sun is shining and people are at the beach, some type of sun block is applied to deter the relationship of UV rays and human skin. The sun rays and human skin are independently neutral. However, when the relationship of UV rays to skin occurs, sunburn can result to varying degrees or be blocked, thus prohibiting UV burns just as absence of a neurotransmitter postpones ongoing firing of nerves and bonding permits compounds to form, or vice-versa.

In a similar fashion, learning can occur efficiently and affectively when the relationship of teacher and student is enhanced. When the student's relationship to content is enabled and the relative and rigorous educational setting promotes a clear connection between investment in mastery and quality performance, scholarly self-actualization and the visage of career goals/wealth may be realized. In many cases, however, the ability to disrupt and exude hostility when scholastic values and relationships are nonexistent or are perceived to be repugnant befalls our educational system. The national statistic indicating that one in four students drop out, therein isolating themselves and possibly choosing suicide ideation, attempts, and completion could be positively impacted by meaningful, significant other relationships.

Therefore, the human resource function might reframe the recruitment domain in terms of value placed on intentional cultivation of learning relationships. Candidates would be expected to teach while developing efficacy and significance. Outcomes would include the cultivation of resilient learners who surpass bureaucratic requirements in route to their learning potential; not that of the system in which they have been unwillingly placed.

Betwixt the broad and deep entanglements of educational bureaucracy ekes out a minimalist orientation to performance that debilitates potential. The plague of minimalistic achievement standards infiltrates various levels of the educational regime and certainly facilitates the abhorrent loss of enthusiastic teachers. They depart teaching after being blanched by its stoic and harsh realities void of support and unable to provide redress. Subscription to a radically prudent paradigm of maximization of outcomes might curtail the attritional carnage and become this century's AED (Automatic External Defibrillator), shocking the system back into a sinus rhythm that circulates hope, optimism, efficacy, significance, and synergy through major arteries while having an excretory effect on disenchantment, failure, and sub-optimal thinking. …

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