enon has the atomic number 54 on the periodic table of elements, which is something I didn’t know seconds before writing this sentence. I wouldn’t feel so badly about this lack of knowledge in chemistry in general (chemistry kept me from pursuing any sort of medical degree) except that I have a student who has memorize the entire table, plus every element’s atomic number AND knows how to spell them all correctly. This student is five years old. Oh, and English is his second language. Feels like we should all be studying a little more, doesn’t it?
The thing is, though, we’re all hardwired to be good at different things. This isn’t to suggest that the line is drawn between genders because it isn’t, but as individuals we each have a different learning strength, a different exploitative passion, a different path our brains are coded to take. Like most things, it’s a little bit nature and a little bit nurture, but very few people excel at everything. My kindergarten chemistry savant can name any element given only its atomic weight, but ask him to draw a picture of his family and he’ll flip the page over and write complex mathematics equations instead. (Ok, that last bit was an exaggeration, but only a small one. He’ll actually draw molecular compounds instead.)
So while I try not to feel bad when I’m struggling to find a stimulating learning environment for one student who should be handed a high school science textbook while the rest of my students are struggling with lower case letters, a part of me still feels like I should crack open the Elements Vault, just for a little review.