I was struck this week by a memory. I have a beautiful print that I shared with my class last year as a journal prompt. On Friday, I tried to find the print but could not. However, I had a photograph of it in a slideshow that I projected instead. Though I could not find where I put the original, searching triggered a memory. I know exactly where that print was on the first day of school last year. Why? On that day, wildfires forced us to evacuate our home. I took my kids to my classroom so we could have our first digital learning day of the year. In my hurry to finish the day and head out of town to safety and clearer air, I took a photo of that print and then placed it on top of my projector. Such an uninteresting and inert event, yet I remember it.
We know traumatic events often create specific memories. For example, I remember exactly where I was when the Challenger shuttle exploded, when the twin towers fell, when my dad told me my nana had died (I was only 6), and more. We recognize this amazing power of our brain. But, how can we make memories without the trauma?
I imagine there is research about the neuroscience of making memories. In this moment, I’m too tired to search for them. Instead, I am going to work and be aware of when I think memories (true, lasting ones) are being made and what prompted those. I am blessed to have students from my class last year with me again this year. I think the best place to start will be to ask them what they remember from last year and see if their answers provide just the clues I need to make this a memorable year. 🙂