In one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Jack Sparrow and a band of stingy pirates search for the Fountain of Youth. This pool is said to bring youth and health to anyone who drinks from it. According to legend the 16th century Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon searched for the magical fountain in what is now Florida. Of course, he never found it because all that is left of Ponce de Leon is a story.
But… could it be that we have access to the Fountain of Youth as teachers?
This week I watched a TED Talk by Ron Gutman titled The Hidden Power of Smiling. Ron talked about how the width of your smile can indicate how long and fulfilling your life will be.
Studies showed that people who have broad smiles have happier and longer marriages, a better sense of well-being, and live up to 7 years longer than non-smilers.
Ron said that 1/3 of people smile more than 20 times per day; children smile much more, sometimes reaching 400 times a day.
I wonder how often I smile each day. I’m tempted to assign a student to watch me for an entire day to count my smiles. Do you think I can get a 2nd grader to take that on?
Another study claimed that it’s difficult to frown at someone who is smiling because smiling is contagious and is programmed into humans. Also a single smile stimulates the brain at the same level as eating heaps of chocolate or receiving $25,000.
Maybe that’s why underpaid elementary school teachers are still happily changing the world one classroom at a time. I imagine that middle school and high school teachers don’t get quite as many smiles as us lucky primary teachers. But according to Charles Darwin initiating the chain of smiles will give you the same benefits.
“Even the simulation of an emotion tends to arouse it in our minds.” Charles Darwin, 1872
If Ron Gutman’s TED Talk is accurate, we teachers should feel rich, happy, healthy, and will live to a ripe old age.
We’ve found the Fountain of Youth. It’s the kids!