Training that Pattern thinking

So, I have been quiet lately, but I think I can begin to get back into the swing of things since my life seems to be resuming some semblance of normalcy .   One of the ideas bumping around in my noggin, but also alluded to in some earlier blogs, is training pattern thinking in terms of logical thinking.  Logical minds are very good at connecting the dots and seeing correlations, but the inferences made and conclusions generated are still only as good as the quality of the data that has been retained.   With extremely logical minds, we see patterns, connections, and correlations in so many different ways, and it can become extremely hard to separate out the useful and trivial data.  I have the beginnings of a solution, and before I forget for any credential freaks out there, I do have my M.ed. so I am not clueless on topics related to pedagogy, that said, training the logical thinker to be able to sort through this data becomes a powerful tool for empowering the individual and helping calm the chaos of a world filled with beautiful patterns.

When I see bad pattern thinking, I often see issues of ideology or unreasonable correlations as the biggest issues.  In the form of ideology, rigid thinking patterns in regards to one’s belief in how the universe works results in the loss of pertinent data in favor of data that already fits their existing world view.  Harold Garfinkle might say this is part of the social creation and re-creation of shared realities.  Through social consensus we often agree on a reality that is highly subjective, based on anecdotes and belief as much as valid observation of objective reality.  When this ideology is challenged, because it based on a rigid and flawed data set, the individual can become hostile, feel threatened, shut up and move on, but they will most often dance around the subject in some way. The internalized notion of reality that is under threat defends itself, best described I think as feeling one’s sanity is at risk, when one challenges a pillar of a person’s identity, and that pillar becomes undermined, it is the perfect recipe for an existential crisis, and I do not think everyone makes it through that experience, so in a very real way, it is a threat to them to challenge these firmly held beliefs.  Yet, children taught to train their logical thinking will be able to better construct a worldview, and though their personality may still hold onto that worldview rigidly, it will be more informed and inherently more flexible.  Likewise, in the case of unreasonable correlations, properly trained logical thinking will help them vet the soundness and validity of their logic, helping to prevent the uptake and retention of bad correlations.

As it stands now, I see four primary things that need to be taught to logical thinkers, and are beneficial to everyone as a whole. First, we need to teach very basic logical syllogism, a simple logical equation that helps determine if an idea is sound, valid, neither, or both.  Secondly, we need to teach Occam’s Razor, not necessarily in that term, but simply reinforce the notion that the most likely answer is it, and that it is the starting point for getting to the real answer, jumping straight to “my teacher must be an alien” is how you end up with the stereotype at least of the “crazy conspiracy theorist”, often tremendously great logical minds, that are simply not weighing the probability of their correlations well.  Thirdly, we need to teach the scientific method, especially in regards to reinforcing that correlation is not causation.  Finally, we need to teach reflexive triangulation, and that is helping it become habit to test correlations against at least three scenarios or thought experiments to quickly determine if ones logic is at least sound. With these cognitive tools developed, the extremely logical mind and pattern thinker is better able to quickly determine the value and use of correlations they see.  It foster’s a healthy sense of skepticism towards rote understanding, and will greatly strengthen critical thinking skills that could translate into a real asset later in life as well.  It may seem like a lot, but many of these concepts can be taught outside of lesson plans and embedded within everyday class behavior, below are a few ideas for use in the classroom to help teach these things, and this is targeted towards the elementary aged students, as this would be the appropriate time to help focus those synapses.

Teaching logical syllogism is fairly easy given the numerous everyday examples of wrong correlations that younger concrete learners very naturally make.  So when a student exhibits correlations based on uninformed logic and a mix of magical thinking, the educator can break that down using logical syllogism and show the student the process while also helping shape their line of inquiry and correct erroneous correlations.  Likewise, you can even break their answer down in a way that shows they were using underlying logic well, that it simply had the wrong data, and thus the child can have the positive aspects of how they arrived at the conclusion reinforced, while still correcting the errors.

Occam’s Razor is already taught to a limited degree, every time an educator challenges a child’s guess as to why something happened with a “do you think that likely?” or a “did you consider this?”, the child is learning to look for the most common patterns, be they social or based in object reality.  Yet, reinforcing this concept verbally would be beneficial, ask questions along the lines of “what do you think is the MOST likely answer?”, and use this tool to engage the students in thinking about probability as part of following a line of inquiry to get to the right answer.

In regards to the scientific method, for the most part it is taught reasonably well, but we tend to keep it compartmentalized instead of using it as a thought tool that can be applied to any line of inquiry.  A hypothesis can be generated and tested in social settings, while playing games, etc.  For example, almost any game can be manipulated to give unfair advantage to some of the players, an educator could engage the children in rules changes and see how it affects the games, it also helps to reinforce why we play with standardized rules and agree as a group to follow them, a not uncommon lesson many children have to learn.

Finally, the seemingly hardest is to teach the habituation of triangulation, that is when one sees a connection between two things, they then learn to take that correlation and apply it to at least two other scenarios or different perspectives, this helps teach the mind to look for validation in the form of seeing if the correlation holds up to other scenarios. It does not guarantee a correct answer, but it helps quickly eliminate bad correlations when it becomes apparent that in other situations the perceived correlation does not hold up or apply well.  Teaching this can be done via line of questioning and teachable moments, but can also be incorporated into early testing and activities, by have children learn to seek out and make three good connections to their central idea.

As integrated learning methods, most of these need little modification to an existing pedagogy, instead it becomes an additional tool and approach to help students better understand how to think, check their thinking, and a bit more about themselves.  Trained to reflex you have a powerful tool to teach intuitive types and non-intuitives alike.  For the intuitive thinkers, it helps ensure the data they choose to incorporate, and thus influences their intuition.  For the non-intuitive, it teaches a method by which to build up understanding and arguments, to step outside just the here and now, but to thing expansively or in the long term.  Though like many of ideas, this one it but a nascent one, I believe that coupled with an educational system that puts emphasis on understanding one’s own self-identity along with the academic work, we will empower our descendants to think critically and have a broader perspective.

Freeing ideas from the grey matter

So I am continuing to explore new ideas and directions all the time, often I get lost in my thinking, hijacked by tangential ideas and thoughts when something new catches my attention.  My curiosity makes me wonder, makes me seek solutions to problems constantly, and right now I am in danger of slipping back into depression, allowing the old neural pathways of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to start trouble shooting myself instead of trouble shooting other issues.  I am unsure how to proceed these days, I am confused and often at war with my amygalae, suffering in my fear, my feelings of impotence, my inability to communicate properly, I am most effective face to face, always, but at the same time, I am easily intimidated into silence because sometimes my thoughts and ideas seem like attacks on people’s long held ideals, and I abhor making people upset, I am controlled by my own daughter and cats for the love of all that is irrational, my sense of self identity continues to try and subsume itself to those around me, it is a reflex, like a dog who has been beaten too many times, so I am trying to break free, but I honestly do not see how, I see several unlikely scenarios that could benefit me, but fishing for a Patron or a new mentor is hard, I cannot sell myself worth a damn, because I honestly still struggle with finding value within me, I still feel the stares and comments, my father’s advice on the nail that sticks out gets hammered still holds sway within my mind, even though it was never possible for me to not stick out, there are many lessons I am still unlearning and still hold me back.

My fear of subsistence and survival is one of them, it is at odds with my desire to let go of such concerns and lose myself in the depths of thought, or my art, or writing, singing, and a host of other ways I learn.  But out of this fear and confusion comes ideas, some transitory, hard to catch, other’s practical and seemingly not overwhelming, but I do not perceive it as worth my time, the ideas I love, I have no desire to devote all my intellect to polishing one of turd out of many though, I cannot choose one path or one route, I must meander and take the circuitous route, I must find my own path outside the traditional avenues because those avenues cannot handle me, I do not thrive and people around me have failed to engage me properly because I keep my masks on, I do not share my ideas because I lack faith in them often enough, but it is not the practical aspects of them, it is because I struggle with the results of a life lived being demeaned and misunderstood, the cowering canine mentality, it makes it hard to endeavor when even with great ideas I cannot even take compliments on them, I assume all too often I am being placated, the walking on eggshells scenario were folks pay lip service but do not actually process or contemplate my ideas…I know this to be wrong, I know there are folks who find value in my thoughts, ideas, and advice.  But rigid habits and my neural wetworks still believe deep down that I am too broken, too damaged, too different for anyone to relate to me, even surrounded by friends and loved ones, my existence is a lonely one, so it is time to change that, it is time to give birth to a few ideas and put them forth for others to use freely.  And I realize by posting that they are free to use that I will never see compensation for someone who makes a profit off it, but I cannot allow myself to be tied to notions of profit, because it has no meaning to me, I dislike paying for services, folks view that as a contract, I view it as an exchange of goods that has no real investment in me as a person. I loathe that if I want to take Tai Chi or Yoga I would have to pay outrageous sums to get a tutor in my home, I fear going to large groups because I know I will get frustrated, anxious, or even panic.  I cannot trust a person I pay money to look out for my interests as a person in need of help and guidance, I cannot trust that cash is able to buy that which is what I need more than ever, simple human investment in me, I refuse to be a transaction, like I refuse to answer phone calls from machines.

So here are some of my recent ideas in no particular order, most of these are new, I do not retain my ideas long.

Cherry Pit heating pad/stuffies:  I see a lot of weighted items out there for autistic folks to use to soothe and calm, I have been using a cherry pit heating pad because the added warmth helps.  So simple enough, stitch together some cherry pit heating pads in friendly and engaging forms, long arms to wrap around them, able to be heated or even chilled if desired, utilitarian but also comforting, cute even, and soothing.

Autism Art Awareness Auction:  Briefly hinted at this in another post, I think a large scale organized event to sell art for autism awareness and education would be a fantastic idea, various autism spectrum artists could devote works to be auctioned off, with some proceeds (along with increased name recognition) going to the artists and then a large chunk of that going towards Autism awareness, or even better…just awareness of difference in general.

Taunting Pro and Anti-gun activists:  Say What? Why would one want to taunt both these groups? Because they are fighting over a symptom and not a cause.  If people could start a letter campaign to groups on both sides to try and convince them of the underlying benefits in working together to tackle mental illness.  If we make an effort to help folks find value in themselves and in this life, if we can see clearly how demeaning difference leads to mental illness, how mental illness can lead to violence, then the greatest part of gun ownership can be tackled.

Demeaning Difference Ad campaign: Using gender, biological sex, race, ethnicity, autism, and whatever else to show in simple ads how making anyone feel they are less because of something they inherently have no control over is damaging. And how this damage and trauma spreads, feeds into mental illness, which increases uncertainty in human behavior, further increasing fear and demeaning and enclaving behaviors.

Attacking modern group think in pedagogy: So, I have a master’s in secondary education, spent a year in a 6th grade class room, so I see teaching to the difference as an imperative, I watched as standardized organizational practices were implemented, the argument is that it benefits the children who do not have organizational skills, sometimes this is true. But I also watched as it was applied to all, kids who were naturally organized in their own way, struggled with an imposed system that ran contrary to how they think, in the name of standardization and expedience though, we are too willing to rely on a one size fits all, and this is never the case.  Our public schools in theory prepare folks not just for having a job like many think it’s primary focus is, but the origins of this system are related to our democratic values and the notions that a well rounded person makes a healthy and active citizens.  But, how you get to that goal is different, and when you force people to learn in ways contrary to how they think, when they are demeaned for their failure, when they do not thrive not only do you introduce mental illness, you feed into the school to prison pipeline for those who cannot thrive. One size fits all cannot and will not work, we must teach to the difference. But this becomes expensive, the ways our education system is funded can often hinder this, so we end up relying on things like charter schools, which though great for different learners, is problematic with resource allocation as well. So we need to think about other methods, I have often wanted to start a school for children with cyrcadian disorders for example, outside the enforced daytime routine that some folks have problems with, and by having problems they fail to learn readily, fail to thrive.

Autistic Children books: Patterned people, abstract, fragmented but meaningful thoughts, books written that go beyond the accepted and standardized prose and instead inform different people in different ways. Sadly, I cannot effectively replicate the same thing frame to frame for continuity purposes, be more like Pablo Picasso and Dr. Suess had an alien love child.  But I wonder what the response would be, to write a book for children targeted at the pattern thinking mindset, one that allows kids to be proud of that difference, instead of being taught to avoid thinking in a way that is natural to them.

I have tons more ideas, some decent, some horrible, I outlined only the vagaries because they are just nascent little ideas, not fleshed out plans of action. It feels alright to get out a few here, even though it seems mostly duds, honestly I have so many more actually solid ideas, but they seem to not be coming at the moment, writer’s block of a sort because I am highly agitated today, seriously spent a sizable chunk of the day contemplating yet again how to run away and disappear, something I cannot do to my daughter, but a large part of me truly wants to do…I want to escape into a fortress of solitude, to sever my ties with the outside world for a bit, because I need time to rebuild myself and heal.  But the funny thing is, I see the solution in spiritual and pseudoscience practices, but I see an underlying science based benefit to these things, but the very thought of someone thinking I had embraced the spiritual aspects of these things inhibits me.  I am well aware of the teachings of Buddha, Lao Tzu, Christ, or great philosophers, I see the patterns of moral action repeated over again as well as unification of the mind and body which in my case is fractured. But I do not need some un-provable guiding spirit or any such nonsense to my mind(and I am NOT demeaning folks who believe firmly in these things, I just can’t, I am not wired that way, be easier if I could I think often), but I need investment in me, and I do not see that forthcoming, so suffer I will until I can feel free to be who I am without having to define myself in contrast to everyone else.