Emerging from my principal gestation

Pop quiz: When does learning begin? Answer: Before we are born. Science writer Annie Murphy Paul talks through new research that shows how much we learn in the womb — from the lilt of our native language to our soon-to-be-favorite foods. (“About this talk” description at TED.com, http://www.ted.com/talks/annie_murphy_paul_what_we_learn_before_we_re_born.html)

In her talk, Annie Murphy Paul discusses fetal origins and the idea that “our health and well-being throughout our lives is crucially affected by the nine months we spend in the womb” (Paul, near 1:45 in talk). She is not talking about the “Baby Einstein” movement. She is talking about gestation affecting our learning about the environment to which we are soon to be born.

At the literal surface, Paul’s TED talk is a powerful listen for educators, as we work to better understand the diversity of inputs responsible for any individual’s lifelong learning. As Paul spoke, I wondered quite a bit about the “nature vs. nurture” debates. But Paul’s TED talk has me wondering on an entirely different level, as well.

As I complete this, my ninth, year as principal, I am curious if a year of being principal is analogous to a month of gestation. If the metaphor works at all, then I am even more excited about what my next phase of life in education will be like, for I am soon to be born into a profound period of development as an educator. And I am eternally grateful for the care that Westminster’s womb has provided me. My gestation has provided deep learning about the educational environment into which I next will emerge, and learn, and grow. I wonder what that world will look like, smell like, sound like, and taste like. What an adventure.

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