Warning: another walk down nostalgia lane. Another one of those quirky things Mr. S. had us do in Grade 7 was to memorize 80 major bones of the human skeletal system.
Collective groans from the class aside, you may wonder why I didn’t ask why we were “required” to learn about a subject better (and later) suited for university or medical school. By this time, we had learned to accept Mr. S’s views and teaching methods when it came to the established Grade 7 learning curriculum: he took a rather dim view of the de facto.
Because way, way, way back in the day, I seriously toyed (and that’s an oxymoron) with, and fantasized about aspirations to become a medical doctor. Biology ended up being my favourite high school subject (although dissecting frogs and rats was not). I was not squeamish, but rather sad to sacrifice them in the name of science.
I had this over-romanticized career notion stuck in my head when I was eight years old … but several years later, during my university years, the reality of pulling 24-hour shifts and/or being on call, chugging massive amounts of coffee every hour, and a non-stop diet of medical textbooks and chemical formulas to memorize–not to mention the financial and psychic costs of putting myself through medical school–sunk in.
As a real-life example: my brother, who did go on to become a medical doctor instead of the lawyer he originally wanted to be, pulled his very first 24-hour shift, came home at 6pm and slept the sleep of the dead for the next 24 hours. He woke up, looked at the clock, saw that it said 6pm, and actually believed that he had just woken up after a few minutes of sleep. I was the one to correct and inform him, with no shortage of personal amusement, that he had actually slept an entire day away!
But when I was eleven, none of those complications existed for me. So when I got wind of this latest assignment, it was with an unbridled, sarcasm-free, “Oh joy!” remark that I embraced learning of the names and functions of these bones. It sure made a big difference in the test scores, but it was more than that; it was learning for the sheer joy of learning.
The human body is a marvelous machine that is often taken for granted. Where else can you get an artificial equivalent like the heart? A healthy one never needs to have a battery replacement, and lasts for a lifetime. Or the lungs, which never stop breathing when you sleep. So learning about the human skeletal system was a natural extension of this fascination (no pun intended). If you didn’t know that backstory, you might think that my hangup with bones is a bit, well, creepy, for the lack of a better word.
Cranium. Maxilla and lower mandible. Zygomatic bone. Clavicle. Sternum. Ribs. Pubis. Patella. Ischium. Fibula. Parietal lobe. Hyoid bone. Tibia and femur. Metacarpals. Metatarsals. Ulna, radius, and humerus. Coccyx. Sacro-iliac. Pelvis. Scapula. I still remember many of these bones. That knowledge didn’t lead me down the path to become an osteologist, archaeologist, anthropologist, or forensic examiner, but it came in awfully handy during my visit to BodyWorlds a few years ago … I didn’t have to go to the interpretive signs as much, or listen to a guide.
No bones about it.