I have secret powers, yes, I dare say super powers. Nothing as feckless as being bulletproof, outrunning speeding trains, or bending steel; these powers are of the mind.
First, I can focus. “Pfffft.” You may sneer, but I assure you that I have capabilities to down 70 pages of Tolstoy in a single sitting in the zoo of the ATL terminals. My dean could kick open my basement office door (as he is apt to do) and order through gritted teeth to read the phone book by week’s end summarizing it in a report. I’d happily turn it in a day early with fancy graphs and flashy pastel colored thumb tabs thrown down like a tomahawk jam. In a world of foxes that worship at the altars of multitasking, my demure hedgehog-ness power goes unrecognized.
My second power borders on the angelic/demonic: it is an ostensible photographic memory. No, don’t confuse this with a visual memory where learning is best done with visual aids that hook concepts – although I must confess some ability here as well. Nope, this is the full-on freak mode to look at a paper, a tableau, an address, a face, and see it after. I almost confessed ethical issues on my bar exam with memorizing my outlines.
And third, my magnum potentium might be best called obsessive anxiety. Odd? Some may say that my nightly logging of pages (exactly 33) from a panoply of war histories, English literature, economic theory, the Holy Bible, and a select style and grammar manual is circumstantial evidence of a personality disorder. However, from a distance, one would see that the professional skill of executive function was mastered in grade school.
Lo, do not envy these powers, this magic, as the rose has thorns. Though I can quote the 7 axioms of a perfectly competitive market or the nine justices of the Supreme Court, alphabetically (Alito, Breyer, Ginsburg, Gorsuch, Kagaen, Kennedy, Roberts, Soto-Mayor, and Thomas) at a rock concert, memorize entire prayers in Latin, and check off (Chekov ;)) dead Russian authors’ works rivalrous of Netflix binge-watching, but there’s a caveat wrapped in this reflection: be super cautious with superpowers. I expose my favor to certain modes of learning in my teaching. This is bias in every sense of the definition; blind spots. For instance, I know I personally despise group work, hate it passionately, but by building my courses with avoiding this method, I risk dusting those students that may excel with it. Thus, my secret superpowers that allowed me to conquer my own higher education challenge, may obstruct another student’s experience. So, be careful with your own powers.