Sunday, December 16, 2012

Learning your learning style...

So this one's all me...

While the overall quality of my formal education was generally excellent, like many, I have come to realize that my own "natural" way of learning wasn't always activated by the set methods and formats I encountered in school. First off, I know my inner character interfaces with exteriority in a few basic aspects: courageous, engaged, disengaged, and fearful. Learning techniques received on the disengaged/fear side of the ledger tend to be ineffective. That sounds obvious, and this makes it all the more frustrating to think back on my education - why weren't misguided attempts to teach me identified and fixed? Learning was often an alienating experience. Logic was often substiturted with magical thinking. I was frequently asked to learn in ways that clearly missed my strengths. And this, over time, I became used to. That was my greatest educational "sin" I think. Acceptance.

While we each possess a constellation of learning styles, here's one of mine I'd like to call out. I've always been a good mimic. That goes for the narrow definition (I'm naturally able to imitate voices and mannerisms), and it has a deeper meaning as well. The ability to hear and recreate a voice or a character trait comes down to an ability to deeply comprehend its distinctive psycho-emotional makeup intuitively. It is not a logical, time-worn process, it occurs in an instantaneous "flash" of full gestalt recognition that registers emotionally as clearly as a photograph. That flash somehow reorganizes my body and mind to be able to recreate what I've observed physically, sensorially, and emotionally with great accuracy.

This mimic instinct doesn't just mirror and repeat. The individual "flashes" are stored and made available to mix and react with other flashes, sometimes resulting in unusual amalgams and original ideas. Not surprisingly, when these flashes are firing and combining and processing absorbed information in a fluid and stimulating fashion, I tend to move into the courageous side of my character.

This is all something I'm learning to identify about myself later in life. Had I been able to understand this ability at a young age, I think I might have had a very different life experience to date. I might have become an actor or a singer or a politician. But instead, I spend a great deal of time getting familiar with states of fear and disengagement. That has lead me to writing and a relatively private life. I am happy with this outcome, especially since there is no way to evaluate the outcomes of parallel universes or the potential of spilled milk. With ten zillion words typed and scrawled, I am just beginning to write for myself. This blog has been helpful on that path, fuzzy thinking, lazy writing, and all. I am excited to see what happens next. I am excited to learn about how I learn and how to apply it to the second half of my life. Stay tuned...

Brookesia micra, a microscopic chameleon recently discovered in Madagascar)


Blogger Rachel said...

I've been reading your blog least a year, I'm thinking a year and a half now. Don't follow many blogs but or have a daily RSS feed or anything but I came across your page likely during some research binge and remembered the URL (spent a year in BCN+Sevilla, which both hold a special place in my heart making it extra easy to remember + return). Never commented, just quietly appreciate when I pop in from time to time.

The whole post, but especially this sentence...

"First off, I know my inner character interfaces with exteriority in a few basic aspects: courageous, engaged, disengaged, and fearful." me. I had perfect grades until the end of middle school, half because I was curious/bright and half out of perfectionism/fear. I only operated on enthusiastic/obsessed/show-offy or freaked out/obsessed-in-a-paranoid-way/overcompensating. So many wayward types I meet who are brilliant disengage from the school system because of the way it is set up...stemming from oldschool shit like empiricism, etc. Like when he fuck is elementary school gonna catch up with the incompleteness theorem, yo? [kidding...kidding...but kind of not. public school = authoritative and axiomatic].

The type of learning you describe is legitimate, people need to understand that intuition is spontaneous and unconscious pattern recognition. When I was a 5 years old in some community center Spanish class I knew tons of words and baffled my teachers just from being observant and growing up in California. I didn't even know how I knew them. Does that mean what I knew was less legitimate? Hell no. And yes...this is when I get into a mode where I go from petrifying shyness to in complete command of the moment. It confuses people, sometimes even myself.

Anyways, this is getting way long. But here's something I came across this fall during my final semester in school:

Search "David Tall" and you'll find more of his research on learning styles specifically in math. School is completely within the "visuo-symbolic" realm (formal math) and the enactive (empirical science). My work in my department (SJSU philosophy) was different from most because everything I did was narrative with thought experiments and especially diagrams cementing everything together (my topics = computer science, informational realism, structuralism, modal logic). People who think this way get left out of science/math often because the teaching style is in direct opposition to the way this type of brain works. I hated math, only to get a philosophy degree and realize that I'm actually a closet mathematician. x__x

Another thing you might dig: Google "Shea Zellweger logical alphabet". He's made a symmetrical logical system based on 16 connectives (correlated w/ binary) and in one interview he talks about education and how his approach gets children involved in the pattern recognition side of things as in the Montessori method of teaching (which I do not know much about, personally).

Wow, so long. Sorry. I'm working on a proper blog but for now I'm at

Look forward to reading more from you, few writers grab my attention and I think you should go for whatever that project is you secretly want to do and put off...because you have stuff to say, and you say it in a way unlike anyone else.

11:01 PM  

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