Tapping into what each person has to offer – finding the spark
Recently 79 year old Sir John B. Gurdon from England was awarded one of the two 2012 Nobel Prize’s for Physiology of Medicine. The discoveries that he and his 50 year old colleague Shinya Yamanakas from Japan have been researching in cellular development and regeneration has led to “major advances in medical research and the study of diseases.”
The Nobel Assembly which is made up of 50 professors at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden made the determination based on the work that Gurdon and Yamanakas jointly discovered of “mature, specialised cells can be reprogrammed to become immature cells capable of developing into all tissues of the body”.
To me that sounds like these men were at the top of their game, making ground breaking discoveries, doing the best work possible, making a difference in the world, and working towards a common goal. The interesting part of this story is that when Gurdon was in secondary school the science master at his school concluded:
I believe [Gurdon] has ideas about becoming a scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous; if he can’t learn simple biological facts, he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist, and it would be a sheer waste of time, both on his part and of those who would have to teach him.
He ranked last in his biology class. Hmmmmm! How could this be? As a veteran middle school educator I know there are a variety of reasons how this could happen and I like to believe that this could never happen in our schools today!
Being aware of information and digging into the research available, collaborating with colleagues to create a learning environment where all kids have the opportunity to find their passion and learn in a creative integrative environment, recognizing the differences in students, continuously shifting towards meeting the needs of young adolescents in this 21st century environment are some of the keys that will help students achieve at the highest level possible! It is not an easy task today to be an educator but a necessary one that we can do together! Who knows what middle level classroom the next Nobel Prize winner is sitting in!