Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

smkaplan's blog

smkaplan's picture

'Extra-sensory' perception: a question of access

Reading Temple Grandin’s Animals in Translation for my book commentary for this course, I came across an interesting passage in which Grandin notes that on a very basic level, human beings and animals have the same kinds of brain cells—the same neurons—we just use them differently. Grandin concludes, “That means that theoretically we could have extreme perception the way animals do if we figured out how to use the sensory processing cells in our brains the way animals do” (63).

smkaplan's picture

Time to Learn

Last weekend at the Ardmore Free Library book sale, I picked up a book called "Summerhill USA," by Richard E. Bull. Have you heard of Summerhill? It's a free school in Suffolk, England that was established in 1921 by Alexander Sutherland Neill. It's one of the foundational "free schools"—schools based on the idea that total freedom is the best environment in which a child can develop and learn. That means nothing is "required"—all classes and activities are optional, in the sense that students don't attend unless they want to. Furthermore, the school operates as a democratic community: decisions are made on a democratic basis, with students, faculty, and staff allowed an equal vote.

smkaplan's picture

Gender Identity and the Brain

Over the summer, I struggled with gender identity issues—though I hate to describe it that way, both because it sounds like I’m pathologizing myself and because it felt less like a “struggle” and more like a long-needed exploration of some aspects of my identity that I’d heretofore neglected or perhaps repressed. I talk to some friends, did some research, and eventually “came out”—if that’s what it was—to a few people. Towards the end of the summer, I felt fairly certain that I wanted to be—would be happier as—a woman.

One night, a friend from out of town visited me, and we got into a pretty heated argument about gender identity. At the center of this argument was a simple question that he posed to me: how was it possible that I “felt like” a woman?

Syndicate content