A few years ago when I was teaching art, I started a “very beginner” chess club in the art room. One of the older 8th grade students that came to chess club had a rough past, which included a history of street fighting. He and I had many conversations that spring and in the most respectful way, I tired to share ideas about alternatives to fighting. We also talked about the “artful side” of fighting (not my expert area for sure), but I had the chance to share about the hazards of fighting (especially body trauma, like broken ribs and head injuries), and how violence is NOT the best option for conflict management.
This student ended up getting into a specialized high school that catered to older students and when I wrote a letter of recommendation for him, I noted our talks about fighting, which also included a story that was in the news about a boy who died after being hit in the back of the head – where his autopsy revealed he had a pre-existing condition that left him extra vulnerable – and sadly, the blows he took ending up taking his life. My big warning to this young, strong student was to think of a new MO and to rethink things. He grew up in a neighborhood where fighting was equated with respect, and my encouragement was to STOP FIGHTING – for many reasons, but especially because he could hurt his brain – or worse – he could accidentally hurt or kill somebody else.
Recently, I stumbled on some “Fight” artwork (Beasty Art) that reminded me of the talks I had with this former student! The two paintings are brilliant and they work so well together – and if I ever need to talk to students about fighting, well this artwork will accompany the talks.
The first painting seems to show some of the harshness and injury that can occur during a fight – note the blue blobs and note the energy, movement and buildup that the artist seems to portray with his brushstrokes and placement of each item! The second painting, which is quite different, seems to show the “artful” side of fighting – with a sense of control, strength, and balance portrayed with the smooth kick in the air – I know not everyone sees any artful side of fighting, and I am not sure if I do, but Danke to WordPress blogger at Beasty Art for letting me expound on his interesting and colorful paintings – I do not endorse all of his posts, but truly enjoyed his FIGHT paintings).
Anyhow, I have learned a lot about brain injuries since then – like head trauma is NOT only a byproduct of physical fighting or is something that comes from playing sports; instead, head injuries happen ALL THE TIME (every 15 seconds). And even though the skull is an amazing shield for the brain, as it combines with membranes and fluid to offer cushioned protection, it can still only do so much to protect the brain.
Victoria (who does research about brain) summed it up quite well when she said, “Marvel of engineering that it is, the human skull is no match for the kinds of insults it faces. Collisions with metal or asphalt, goalposts or someone else’s noggin, create forces that can severely damage the brain’s tender tissues and disrupt its intricate circuitry. Protect your brain!!” Read more from Victoria here.