Monthly Archives: February 2011

Sprightly Knees

Last April, May and early June, to accompany my watching of Marian Diamond’s Integrative Biology lectures, I did a lot of blogging about human anatomy. While I find our body systems interesting, I am fascinated by the skeleton – the bones and muscles that give us our form and shape. So perhaps you can imagine my double delight upon getting a set of x-rays of my knees. Who would want to have to get x-rays in the first place? Well, I had this pesky discomfort in my left knee, resulting from a collision with a piano bench…

Here is a front view of my knees; it’s pretty much what I expected to see. No surprises, but I am tickled to view the bones with such clarity. The bone coming from the top is the femur, also known as the thigh bone. It is the longest and strongest bone in the human body, and via the knee joint it connects to the tibia or shin bone, which is the second longest bone in the human body. The smaller bone on the outside of the tibia is the fibula.

Below is a profile of my left knee. That bump on the side, the piece of bone that looks like it is floating, is the patella, also called the knee cap. The thick bone on the bottom is the tibia, and the smaller, narrower bone is the fibula. Both the tibia and fibula go from the knee to the ankle.

So why my double delight upon getting this set of x-rays? Delight #1 – to see the inside of my body. Delight #2 – to be told that not only my left knee, but both my knees are just plum fine! Turns out I have a rather strong tolerance for pain so by the time I went to see the orthopedist, my knee was almost all healed. I had taken good care of it by acknowledging something wasn’t right, nurturing it, and taking it easy during (and not taking as many) yoga classes.

The picture below is of both my knees as I bent them over the front edge of the examination table. (Don’t know why they call it a table, as it looks and feels more like a bed!) What looks like an indentation at the top of the x-ray (actually, the point where my knees are bent) is the patella. Perhaps you notice that the patella appears to be shaped somewhat like a triangle. The patella’s job is to increase the mobility of the knee joint by letting it bend and extend a tad further than would be possible without the patella. Our feet have a busy job of supporting our bodies, but so do our knees. Turns out that “when we walk, our knees support 1.5 times our body weight; climbing stairs is about 3-4 times our body weight and squatting about 8 times.”

Stats on the knees come from:

Adult Learning ~ Kid Learning

If you are in the education field, you may have heard of Jay McTighe. He is probably best known for his work with Grant Wiggins on Understanding by Design. That quick background is by way of introducing him for the video below, but it is not the take-away from this video.

Rather, the reason for sharing this video is because McTighe is in his 60s. Big deal. Well, yes, it is a big deal, because in his 50s he set out to LEARN SOMETHING QUITE NEW, something that was not merely an extension of skills he already had, but something that was challenging and stimulating. He pursued the prescription for keeping an aging brain (and body) healthy, and a wonderful side effect is he modelled resilience and ongoing learning for kids and others in the world of education.

Here is more, from some of my 2008 posts, about the benefits of challenging our aging brains to learn:

I have written a bit about professional development, adult learning, and by default, helping kids and others to learn. The post below notes the benefits that can accrue when adults engage in professional development. By the way, “professional” development often equates to “personal” development.

[Thanks to Fred for sharing this video.]

Visualize this: no snow

Two students asked to do visualizations at the start of yesterday’s yoga class, but the honor went to the student to whom it was promised at the end of our previous session. The two girls who asked will get to do a collaborative visualization on Friday; we have no class tomorrow because it is parent-student-advisor conference day. Given the weather since we’ve returned from December vacation (four snow days, one delayed opening, one emergency dismissal, and a planned early dismissal today), even tomorrow’s conference day is now in question!

Visualization by Derrick (with some help from Arianna)

Imagine: You’re in your bed, peaceful as always, and then you wake up and look at your clock. You realize that it is 9 AM and school has already started. You get ready as fast as you can but when you get downstairs it is 9:30 AM. You look around for your mom but she is nowhere to be found. Good thing you can walk to Dunkin’ Donuts around the corner to get your breakfast.

When you arrive at Dunkin’ Donuts there is a line and by the time you get your food it is 10 AM, so as you are walking to school you eat your food. When you get to school, you remember that your class is about to start and you have a test today. Because of your weird morning you have fogotten all of the information. You start to get really anxious and head to your class, hoping that you will eventually remember the information.

You get the test and realize that you don’t know anything so you just guess. You happen to have a study hall next so you can relax. And as the day goes on you remember you have ANOTHER test. This one makes or breaks your grade. When you get the test you see that your teacher is a man-bear-pig. Then you remember that you’re imagining and all of this is fake.

The stress you had has all gone away and now you’re laying on a yoga mat listening to someone really cool read you a visualization.