May 2018

You can have your cake and eat it too!

English is obviously not my first language, so I pay extra attention to proverbs and special expressions. English has many of them and the more fluent you are, the more comfortable you feel when you hear or use them. One of them is “you can’t have your cake and eat it too“, which means you cannot have two incompatible things. You have to choose either one or another.

However, sometimes, you do not need to choose. For example, you can do mental exercises for your brain and have lots of fun at the same time. In other words, you do not need to choose – fun or exercise… Let me explain. Let us say you are learning physics, languages, or you are learning to play a harp (as my friend Amanda is successfully doing) and you love it. You are having fun while doing it and it is clear you are thinking about doing it – so you are activating your brain. Doing these things is clearly a mental exercise… And now, scientists have found that you are also activating different parts of the brain while doing it. In other words, these activities help you exercise your brain while having fun. As a physics teacher, I am not naive to think that only physics activates your brain. But I do think that different activities activate different parts of our brain. So we cannot limit ourselves to one type of activity – be it physics, learning French or practicing to play a harp.

So, we have to remember that we have to activate different parts of our brains… And not surprisingly, this is something important for teachers to remember and to remind their students… If we only focus on one thing, we might become very good at it, but we might want to try other things as well… We will never know if we do not try.

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