Athletic Coach / What about teaching and learning styles?

Successful athletic coaches are excellent teachers. Why? They are results-based people.

Years ago, when I worked as a substitute teacher in high schools, I quickly learned to ask the district to call me whenever a coach needed a sub. Their classrooms were organized for efficient and calm learning. The students were well-behaved, loved their teacher and were ready to participate. Essential teaching materials were available: you’d be surprised how many teachers are utter clutter-bugs, unprepared and couldn’t care less about what goes on in a classroom.  

I’m “looking into” alternative areas of teaching – learning outside the rigid psychology-based nightmare of public non-education. Note how this martial arts instructor focusses on HIS STUDENTS: paying close attention to their needs and individual receptivity to learning styles.  

This results-based approach is common sense, but does require being flexible, paying attention to detail, and sincerely and actively being interested in who the students are as individuals. 

AND knowing your subject thoroughly… “If you can’t explain it to a 6 year-old, you don’t understand it yourself”  

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Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic Learning Styles in Grappling

by Charles Smith, whitebelt.org

Overview 

People learn in many different ways and no two people learn in exactly the same way. As a coach you can help your players train more efficiently if you teach in a way that takes into account the various differences in their learning styles.

In this article.. I cover three basic styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

Visual learners want to see how something is done. Auditory learners prefer to hear explanations and like to talk their way through things. Kinesthetically oriented people want to get lots of hands-on experience so they can feel how something is done. I’ve covered each of these sensory learning styles in their own article, linked at the bottom of this page.

As you read the articles keep in mind that everyone uses a mix of learning styles. Some people have one dominant style, and use the others only as supplements, while other people use different styles in different circumstances. There is no right mix. People’s learning styles are also quite flexible. Everyone can develop ability in their less dominant styles, as well as increase their skill with styles they already use well.

Note to Coaches:
The key for you as a coach is to present information in a multi-layered mixture of styles. Don’t get stuck teaching in just one mode. Make sure you’re doing all you can for each style and pay particular attention to how you can blend the styles together. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you should help your students discover their own learning styles and how to make the most of them.

Visual Learning Style

First we’ll look at the visual learning style and how best to teach people who use it.

The visual style of learning is one of the three sensory learning styles along with auditory and kinesthetic. Like the other two, visual learning relates to the fundamental ways in which people take-in information. As you can guess, visual learners learn predominantly with their eyes. They prefer to see how to do things rather than just talk about them. It’s the old monkey see, monkey do kind of thing. (So be careful what you do in front of your children!) Since about 60% of people are visual learners you can count on working with them in every class you teach.

Visual learners prefer to watch demonstrations and will often get a lot out of video taped instruction as well. You can sometimes tell you’re dealing with a visual learner when they ask, “Can I see that again?” Other types of learners would ask if you could do it again, or explain it again, but visual learners will often say they want to see it. It’s just a little sign that the person you’re coaching may be a visual learner.

There are two important guidelines to follow in coaching for visual learners. The first is to make sure you are showing the movements as completely and clearly as possible. If you’re demonstrating a technique and part of the movement is hidden from view, you’ll want to find a way to rearrange things. You may have to get pretty creative, but the main thing is to position yourself so that everything you’re doing is available for viewing.

You also don’t want to rush or cut corners during a demonstration. Players need to see exactly how things should look from beginning to end. Coaches will frequently cover the key part of a technique with precision, but then get sloppy with the rest. Remember, monkey see, monkey do. Visual learners are going to do what they see you doing. They’ll subconsciously pick up on the sloppy movements and begin copying them – often even if you tell them not to.

Those are the two main guidelines for visual coaching: Show everything clearly and show everything exactly as you want it to be done.

Based on those ideas, here are a few things you can do, and not do, to improve your coaching for visual learners.

  • Always take the time to show the technique from a number of different angles and encourage your students to move around and find the best viewing angles.
  • Do not force your students to stay in fixed lines while you demonstrate. This always results in some people blocking the view of others.
  • Give your demonstrations toward the middle of the floor, not near a wall. That way people can get all the way around you.
  • Every now and then throw out a banana. Monkeys like bananas.

Auditory Learning Style

Auditory learners pick up new ideas and concepts better when they hear the information. In this article we’ll look at the auditory learning style and how best to present information to people who favor it.

Recognizing the Auditory Style

Auditory people can often follow directions very precisely after being told only once or twice what to do. Some auditory learners concentrate better when they have music or white noise in the background, or retain new information better when they talk it out.

Since hearing and speaking are so closely related you’ll often find auditory learners using they’re voice as well as their ears. They’ll often repeat what you’ve said right back to you. (Of course, psychologists label this natural auditory learning behavior as “pathological echolalia” in ASD Asperger children.) It helps them process the information. They may also remember complex sets of information by putting them to song or rhythm. Singers are usually skilled auditory learners for example. That’s why they can memorize a song after hearing it just a few times. Auditory people may also ask, “Could you explain that again?” Other types of learners would ask you to do it again, or show it again, but auditory learners want to hear it.

Once you start watching for the signs you’ll see just how many people prefer the auditory style. I believe the experts say that about 30% of Americans are auditory learners. That makes it a good bet you’ll be working with them in any decent sized class.

Organization Techniques

As with the other styles of learning it’s best to let people arrange themselves around you for instruction. Don’t force your students to stay in fixed lines while you demonstrate. Lines always result in some people not being able to hear as well as others – or feeling that they’ve been pushed to the back and can’t ask questions.

I’d suggest giving your demonstrations toward the middle of the floor and not near a wall (as in the typical “lecture style” American classroom.)That way people can get all the way around you to find the best place to listen from. You may have to encourage people to move around you since so many of us are conditioned to being in neat little lines.

Likewise, it’s also a good idea to let people ask questions as soon as they have them. Requiring people to raise their hands or otherwise wait for permission to speak usually squanders the moment when a student is really hot to learn. You’ll just end up back tracking to answer the question anyway, so let people speak up when they want to and rely on informal means to keep things under control.

Expository Techniques

Auditory learners will try to do what you say – exactly what you say. You need to speak clearly and completely or they’re going to head off in the wrong direction for sure. Assuming you’ve got decent speaking skills, the thing to pay most attention to is giving a detailed verbal description of what you’re doing. In other words, you’ve got to put everything into words.

Saying “do it like this” is not enough. It’s talking, sure, but it’s not saying anything.Do it like this” means: Ignore what I’m saying and watch instead. Instead of saying “put your hand here.” Say “put your hand on the inside of the knee.” Instead of saying “push hard,” say “push hard enough to pin their leg down.” Instead of saying, “move over here,” say “move over next to the far leg.” See the pattern? Avoid saying things that assume the player can see what you’re talking about.

Questioning Techniques

Getting verbal helps a lot of auditory learners. When they can both hear something and then say it out loud for themselves it helps them process the information. Most auditory learners like to ask questions too, if given the chance. You can get things started, and give everyone confidence that you like questions, by asking some questions of your own.

I would caution one thing though. Don’t make people feel like they’re being tested by putting them on the spot. Address your question to the group as a whole and don’t slight anyone who answers incorrectly.

One of my favorite ways to tell someone they’ve got it wrong is to use a melodramatic voice and body language to say:

Good answer! Good answer!

Then pause a moment and say:

It’s not the right answer, but it’s a good answer!

Good answer.”

If you ham it up people get the idea that the answer is wrong but there’s no reason to be embarrassed.

Echoing

Verbal interaction is probably one of the weakest areas most coaches have. Perhaps it’s because most of us grew up being told to keep quite in school. Now that we’re the teacher we subconsciously induce our students to do the same. Bad, bad us.

If you’re really having trouble with asking questions, one of the simplest ways to start is a technique called echoing. It works like this:

Coach states: “Grab the near collar.”

Coach immediately asks: “What do you grab?

Athletes echo: “The near collar.”

Coach echoes: “The near collar.”

Echoing is crude, but it works to get people’s jaws moving and that’s a start. Keep it light hearted and try it for a few months. (No, it doesn’t work overnight.) After everyone’s mouth is use to moving start branching out into real questions.

Like I said, echoing is crude, but it’s a start.

By the way, echoing can also be used as a motivational technique. People have to pay more attention to what you’re saying if they know they have to echo what you say.

Meta-Learning Techniques

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you should help your students become aware of their own auditory style and give them suggestions for putting it to use. What I call rapping is a simple way to start.

Rapping

Rapping is a simple procedure auditory learners can use to help themselves learn a new technique. Using short phrases, students quietly talk their way through the new movements they’re learning. Each step has it’s own little key word description that acts to jog the memory. The player should be able to put together the key words for themselves from the description given by the coach. Once the student starts to get the movements down, they can say the words in rhythm to help smooth out their timing and pace.

Coaches can encourage rapping by asking students if they’ve got the rap down and “let’s hear it.” And hey, maybe you can beat-box for ‘em too! Or not.

Close

Now that you’ve got a grasp of the auditory learning style I think you’ll find you can more precisely target your coaching for a number of your students.

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend taking a look at the other two sensory learning styles, visual and kinesthetic, to round out your knowledge.

Kinesthetic Learning Style

About 10% of the general population are kinesthetic learners. They prefer to learn by getting their body into action and moving around. They are “hands-on” types who prefer doing to talking. (Many ASD Asperger children, despite being labeled clumsy, “do” kinesthetic learning. It’s all that “hands on, let me do it myself, my way” behavior: handling objects, studying them, using them, arranging them – Oh no! That’s defective: punish that child.) In this article we’ll look at the kinesthetic learning style and how best to present information to people who favor it.

Recognizing the Kinesthetic Style

While only about 10% of the general population are kinesthetic learners, it’s a good bet a lot more people in a grappling class are. Only people who enjoy lots of hands-on work tend to keep coming back to something so physical.

As a coach you can count on all of your players to engage in kinesthetic learning. They may not be kinesthetic-oriented by nature, but grappling will eventually shape them into skilled kinesthetic learners. (So let’s get rid of outdoor recess, PE classes and  punish kids when they can’t remain frozen like statues for hours and hours) 

Let me point out a few indicators of the kinesthetic style.

When you’re giving a demonstration the people who always ask you to demonstrate on them so they can feel the technique, are very likely kinesthetic learners (and masochists). (Successful athletes do tolerate an extreme amount of pain, injury, discomfort and failure in order to fulfill goals. The corollary perils of intellectual success are ignored) 

You’ll also see the kinesthetic types following along as you demonstrate – moving their arms and legs in imitation of what you’re doing. Moving is so fundamental to kinesthetic learners that they often just fidget if nothing else. It helps them concentrate better.

Organization Techniques

If you talk for more than ten minutes during a technical demonstration you’ve gone way too long. Kinesthetic learners need to get to the action as soon as possible. Even visual and auditory learners can’t keep track of 10 minutes worth of non-stop details. Three minutes is my rule. If I can’t demonstrate something in under three minutes I usually break it down into smaller chunks. Say what you need to say, don’t say anything else and then get to work.

This is a very important point that relates not just to kinesthetic learners but to everyone in general. It has to do with the relationship between short-term-memory and learning. Check out the article entitled Chunking to find out more.

Meta-Learning Techniques

One of the most important things you can do regarding learning styles is help your students become aware of their own preferences. Be sure to talk to your students about kinesthetics.

Kinesthetics simply refers to an awareness of changes in pressure, momentum, balance and body position in general. It’s all about feeling what you’re doing as you do it. Kinesthetic learning is not particularly difficult to understand but because so many people regard learning as something you do by reading books or listening to lectures, they often haven’t given a great deal of thought to physical movement as a means of study. (Could it be that many ASD, Asperger and ADHD children are acutely aware of “changes in pressure, momentum, balance body position” and other sensory information, but need to utilize kinesthetic learning as an asset, instead of being labeled “defective” and FORCED to mimic “socially acceptable behavior” as a “solution” to social psychology’s conformist agenda?)

For some people, taking a grapping class may actually be the very first time they become consciously aware of kinesthetics, so make sure all of your students know what it is and that they will need to make extensive use of kinesthetic learning methods to succeed. Even predominantly visual and auditory learners need to make use of all the kinesthetic techniques they can. (How radical!) 

Teaching Technique

Essentially, kinesthetic learners need to feel the particular details of what’s happening during a technique. As a coach you want to give your player a very tactile sense of what to do. Provide them with precisely targeted physical contact by setting up situations where the player feels one thing if they move correctly and something else if they move poorly.

For example, if a player is incorrectly leaving his arm out where it might get pulled into an arm bar, have the player tuck in his arm and point out that he should feel his elbow tight up against his own ribs. Then emphasize the way the position feels by pulling on his arm so he is forced to engage his muscles. Tell him to pay attention to his own muscles working away inside his body. (Psycho-social teaching labels “the body” as a  dangerous object that must be “controlled” like an enemy, as opposed to being the essential vehicle for “being” in the world.)

Once he’s got a feel for the proper position, do some repetitions. As the player works on his technique, stop and check the arm to make sure it’s in tight. Tug on it a few times to reinforce the correct feeling and then continue on. After several reps stop checking the arm but keep an eye on it as the player keeps going. If that arm goes slack again slap the piss out of the guy (get his attention) and repeat the whole arm-pulling exercise again. After a few training sessions the player should be keeping his arm in on his own. (Note that the teacher must pay attention to the student! Not just dump poorly delivered information into the “air” and assume it’s the child’s fault for “not getting it”)

Finding a way to physically check a player’s body position is the key. Push, pull, lift, press, whatever – do something that the player must physically react to – then get them to pay attention to the kinesthetic sensations.

Close

Understanding kinesthetic learning is an absolute necessity for grappling coaches. I typically base my own coaching style on the requirements for good kinesthetic learning and then supplement it with the other two sensory learning styles: visual and auditory.

Thanks to Charles Smith and whitebelt.org for allowing us to post this article on Grapplearts

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See also: Posts on Hunter Gatherers

https://aspergerhuman.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/jared-diamond-hunter-gatherer-parenting/

https://aspergerhuman.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/more-on-hunter-gatherer-child-education/

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Simple Breakdown / How the Brain Processes Information

https://www.labs.hpe.com/next-next/brain

In 2008, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency issued a challenge to researchers: Create a sophisticated, shoebox-size system that incorporates billions of transistors, weighs about three pounds, and requires a fraction of the energy needed by current computers. Basically, a brain in a box.

Although neuroscience has made important strides in recent years, the inner workings of the brain are still largely a mystery. “So little is really understood about the hardware of the brain—the neurons and their interconnections, and the algorithms that run on top of them—that today, anyone who claims to have built ‘a brain-like computer’ is laughable,” says Stan Williams, a research fellow at Hewlett Packard Labs.

Programs mirror human logic, but they don’t mirror intuitive thought.”

Rich Friedrich, Hewlett Packard Labs

A caveat from HP Labs (super website) regarding the analogy that the human brain like a computer processor. 

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We have to start somewhere!

eLearning Design and Development

By Christopher Pappas,  November 11, 2016

The brain is often likened to a processor. A complex computing machine that takes raw data and turns it into thoughts, memories, and cognitions. However, it has its limits, and Instructional Designers must know the boundaries before they can create meaningful eLearning courses. In this article, I’ll explore how the brain works, from its basic biological and memory functions to its ability to process information. I’ll also share 3 tips to help you create an eLearning course design that facilitates knowledge absorption and assimilation.

Information Processing Basics: A Guide For Instructional Designers

The brain is a wondrous thing. It transforms letters, numbers, and images into meaningful data that governs every aspect of our lives. Neural pathways spark and new ideas meet with the old to form complex schematic structures. But one of the most miraculous tasks it tackles is learning. As eLearning professionals, we must understand how information processing takes place in order to create effective eLearning experiences.

Brain Biology / The brain consists of many different structures, and the cortex encases all of them. The cortex is the outermost shell of the brain that takes care of complex thinking abilities. For example, memory, language, spatial awareness, and even personality traits. The inner regions of the brain control the most primitive aspects of human nature, such as our base impulses, fears, emotions, and our subconscious. The brain also houses a “subcortex,” which connects directly to the cortex. As such, it’s able to transmit and process information. (A cliché description of “primitive, subconscious”)

The Human Memory

Now that we’ve briefly explored the physical makeup of the brain, let’s delve into one of its most vital functions: memory. After all, memory is crucial for eLearning. If online learners aren’t able to remember the information, then all is for naught. We usually don’t give memory much attention, as it’s an automatic process. Every event, no matter how small, passes through the gates of our memory without us even noticing. However, most of the occurrences are just passing through and never take up permanent residence. There are three types of memory that Instructional Designers should be aware of:

1. Sensory Memory 

When our senses are triggered by a stimulus, our brains briefly store the information. For example, we smell freshly baked bread and can only remember its scent for a few seconds before it vanishes. Even though the bread is no longer in front of us, our mind’s still hold onto its impression for a short period. The brain then has the option to process it through the memory banks or forget about it. In eLearning, sensory memory is triggered by a visually compelling image, background music, or any other element that utilizes the senses.

2. Short-Term Memory

A process that falls under the purview of working memory, which temporarily stores information when it is triggered by stimuli. Short-term memory can only hold a maximum of 7 items at one time. It also has a time limit, which is usually between 10 seconds to a minute.

3. Long-Term Memory

After passing through the short-term memory, relevant information is moved to long-term storage. At this stage, the brain is less likely to forget important details. However, even the long-term memory can diminish over time if we don’t refresh our knowledge.

Information Processing Stages

There are a number of Information Processing theories and models. However, many suggest that the learning process involves three key stages:

Stage 1: Input / The brain is exposed to a stimuli, at which point it analyzes and evaluates the information. For example, the online learner reads a passage and determines whether it’s worth remembering.

Stage 2: Storage / Our brains store the information for later use. It also adds it to our mental schema and encodes it. If the information is not reinforced, the brain may simply forget it over time.

Stage 3: Output / The brain decides what it’s going to do with the information and how it will react to the stimulus. For example, after reading the passage, the individual uses the information they learned to overcome a challenge.

Simple! The question is, How do specific human brains handle these processing tasks? Psychologists would have us believe that there is only ONE way this ought to be accomplished; their way. Bull Shit.

 

Sunday Statement / Religion is…

Relationships do not give people everything they expect: the gap is filled in by God, or Jesus, or material wealth – the fantasy friends who will give you everything you want.

Religion, is in fact, a statement of disappointment in what other human beings can provide.  

Nature provides what other humans cannot. Reject nature, and starve.

The human word brain vs. the visual bird brain / Aye, yai, yai

A Blog by Robert Krulwich, 12/03/15

How a 5-Ounce Bird Stores 10,000 Maps in Its Head

Around now, as we begin December, the Clark’s nutcracker has, conservatively, 5,000 (and up to 20,000) treasure maps in its head. They’re accurate, detailed, and instantly retrievable.

It’s been burying seeds since August. It’s hidden so many (one study says almost 100,000 seeds) in the forest, meadows, and tree nooks that it can now fly up, look down, and see little x’s marking those spots —here, here, not there, but here—and do this for maybe a couple of miles around. It will remember these x’s for the next nine months.

This is an assumption based on how humans make maps. Is the bird using an aerial map (that covers several square miles) that it has composed from “little maps” that are based on the arrangement of a few objects on the ground, in 5,000-20,000 separate locations? Does it then transform this complex projection (from ground points to an aerial view) into a “graphic map” with x’s on it? This is where BEING LITERAL counts, if one is to understand how the bird thinks; that is, how it collects and processes information from the environment, and then arranges it in a useable form. Does the bird rely on a built-in Google Map app? 

Humans are not very good at “imagining” how other life forms function in relation to the environment. Are these maps at all, or simply images? In visual thinking, the image IS the content. Does the bird brain compare what it sees while searching for caches with an image that is embedded in its visual records (and is always available and “updated” as the environment changes) or is it calculating distance and location mathematically, using “trigonometry software” like a computer? Either way, it still needs an accurate “memory” of locations… which for the bird must be acquired through its senses – perhaps several senses are involved?  

How does it do it? / 32 Seeds a Minute

It starts in high summer, when whitebark pine trees produce seeds in their cones—ripe for plucking. Nutcrackers dash from tree to tree, inspect, and, with their sharp beaks, tear into the cones, pulling seeds out one by one. They work fast. One study clocked a nutcracker harvesting “32 seeds per minute.”

These seeds are not for eating. They’re for hiding. Like a squirrel or chipmunk, the nutcracker clumps them into pouches located, in the bird’s case, under the tongue. It’s very expandable … The pouch “can hold an average of 92.7 plus or minus 8.9 seeds,” wrote Stephen Vander Wall and Russell Balda. (Aye, yai yai!) Biologist Diana Tomback thinks it’s less, but one time she saw a (bigger than usual) nutcracker haul 150 seeds in its mouth. “He was a champ,” she told me.

Next, they land. Sometimes they peck little holes in the topsoil or under the leaf litter. Sometimes they leave seeds in nooks high up on trees. Most deposits have two or three seeds, so that by the time November comes around, a single bird has created 5,000 to 20,000 hiding places. They don’t stop until it gets too cold. “They are cache-aholics,” says Tomback.

When December comes—like right around now—the trees go bare and it’s time to switch from hide to seek mode. Nobody knows exactly how the birds manage this, but the best guess is that when a nutcracker digs its hole, it will notice two or three permanent objects at the site: an irregular rock, a bush, a tree stump. The objects, or markers, will be at different angles from the hiding place. (???)

Next, they measure. (How are they measuring? Do they use feet and inches or the metric system? A tape measure? A laser scanner? LOL) This seed cache, they note, “is a certain distance from object one, a certain distance from object two, a certain distance from object three,” says Tomback. “What they’re doing is triangulating. They’re kind of taking a photograph with their minds (brain) to find these objects” using (3) reference points

You can see from the video that “triangulation” is not what the researchers think it is!  

Psychologist Alan Kamil has a different view. He thinks the birds note the landmarks and remember not so much the distances, but the angleswhere one object is in relation to the others. (“The tree stump’s 80 degrees south of the rock.”) Aye, yai, yai!  These nutcrackers are doing geometry more than measuring. (OMG!) 

Yes, birds think in words; measure distances and angles, take notes, and identify “trees” as trees, “rocks” as rocks, and “do the math” (wrongly) just like psychologists. Another huge Asperger sigh…

Imagine that the bird is positioned where the theodolite sits on the survey table, (a tree branch) and (according to the researchers, is trying to remember) a point where it dug a hole and buried seeds.

Note that TWO points are needed for triangulation: point A and point B. This requires that the bird records data from two different positions in the landscape at a known distance from each other. But, even then, it’s not the “point” where a cache can be found that can be calculated, but the DISTANCE TO THE TREE (along dashed line) from the baseline. If the cache is in or below the tree, the bird can SEE where it is… 

If we assume that (what the authors really mean) is that the marker objects exist at  points A, B, and C, then why is there any need to “do the trig” or even make a map? The cache simply exists within the area defined by points A, B, C. On the ground these markers (an irregular rock, a bush, a tree stump) are not going to be more than a few inches to feet apart… a small area to search. And if the bird has an existing image of the area that includes the position of the buried seeds – easy, peasy! 

Does the bird actually need an accurate map based on distances and angles to find seeds, when it has established an enormous number (5,000 – 20,000) caches, or will a few visual landmarks get it “close enough” to rediscover a sufficient percentage of them to provide for survival? Does it actually “find” each and every one of the 100,000 seeds? (I’d like to see proof!) What about the ones that other animals discover and eat? What about those displaced by rain, snow, wind, erosion, tree limbs or whole trees falling down; leaf litter is hardly a “permanent” material! What happens when one or more markers and the seed location are buried under snow? How is that explained? 

To see what is involved in mapping go to: http://www.icsm.gov.au/mapping/surveying2.html

However they do it, when the snow falls and it’s time to eat, (they don’t eat during the rest of the year?) they’ll land at a site. “They will perch on a tree,” says Tomback, “on a low branch, [then light onto the ground, where] they pause, look around a bit, and they start digging, and in a few cases I’ll see them move slightly to the right or to the left and then come up again (??)”

She’s convinced that they’re remembering markers from summer or fall and using them to point to the X spot—and, “Lo and behold, these birds come up with their cracked seeds,” she says. “And it’s really pretty astounding.”

In the 1970s, Stephen Vander Wall ran a tricky little experiment. He shifted the markers at certain sites, so that instead of pointing to where the seeds actually were, they now pointed to where the seeds were not. OMG!

And the birds, as you’d expect if they were triangulating, went to the wrong place Note that this “experiment” was not conducted in the wild, but in artificially constructed conditions controlled by the “researchers”… who don’t understand triangulation… 

I think what they are thinking of is trisecting a triangle.

But at sites where he left the markers untouched, the birds got it right. That’s a clue that each of these birds has thousands of marker-specific snapshots in their heads that they use for months and months. When the spring comes and the birds have their babies, they continue to visit old sites to gather seeds until their chicks fledge. A “photographic” image (and images recorded by the brain) include the details needed for identification of what is within the frame of capture; the relationships between content details are “fixed” in the pattern. The bird does not need to “abstract” markers from the environment; everything is included in the image.

The mystery here, the deep mystery, is how do they manage to store so much data in their heads? I couldn’t possibly do what they do (I can’t even remember all ten digits in a phone number, so I’d be one very dead nutcracker in no time). Is their brain organized in some unique way? (!!!!!) 

Neurotypicals are perpetually amazed that other living things, which have been produced by the rigors of evolutionary selection over millions of years, could possibly possess functions and skills beyond those of an infantile domesticated social human.  

Is their brain plastic? Can it grow more neurons or more connections when it needs to? Chickadees are also food hiders, and they do grow bushier brains when they need to, expanding in the “remember this” season and contracting afterward. Do Clark’s nutcrackers do that? We don’t know.

Whatever it is they do, I want what they’ve got.

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Messages from the Unconscious / Yes, it happens

“There is no way that as a human being, you won’t disturb the Earth.”

I have related in previous posts, how my “mind works” (and everyone’s does, actually) but you have to listen for the products of the unconscious, in order to make them conscious. I enjoy sleep; it’s an active state of rest, refreshment and dreams. Powerful thinking goes on; a type of thinking much older than conscious verbal thought. A direct link to collective memory – evolutionary memory. A vast reservoir that is encoded along with all the myriad instructions that build a human body within a woman’s body – and after birth must be nurtured in order to grow the infant into an adult form. We call the code DNA, but then ignore that the code is useless unless it finds healthy expression as a living creature, which is not an automatic guaranteed outcome.  

Traditional so-called primitive cultures keep the unconscious conduit open; sometimes through initiation rituals and physical breakdown of the conscious / unconscious barrier or by use of psychoactive concoctions or physical stress; through dream imagery interpretation and the activities of shamans, who act as both guides and “librarians” -individuals, who thanks to their personality – brain type, can search the collective memory banks to “correct” whatever ails you or the community. The source of “trouble” is held to be a deviation from paths and patterns worked out by natural processes – often due to intentional human interference.  

If I’m lucky, a phrase or idea may linger from the night’s brain activity: it may become a stimulus for word-based thinking, as if a basin of water had been left to fill overnight, and that on waking a particular phrase allows the stored up potential of unconscious activity to be free to “do work” in the waking world. Geologic processes and events sometimes supply the images for this dynamic relationship between what modern social people believe to be a “good” realm of conscious social word-thought and the “evil” realm of unconscious “trash and sewerage” – a tragic religious-psychiatric condemnation that has been imposed on a healthy system of human sensory experience, visual processing and creativity directed toward a goal of survival and reproduction of our specific “version” of animal life.

Unconscious processing is a powerful legacy of animal evolution that we have relegated to a sewer system, a septic tank, a dark region of monsters, dreadful impulses and dangers.

Myths from many cultures include Hell, the underworld, limbo or an after life in their scheme of things; some describe “that place” as a source of knowledge that is perilous to enter, but worth it for what can be found there. The unconscious experience is “outside time” and therefore seen as a place of reliable prophecy; an attractive lure to those modern humans who desire to manipulate, dominate and control man and nature – hence the relentless and blinding quest for “magic” as the means to “cheat” the Laws of Nature. But it is the unconscious content of the human animal that composes the owner’s manual for “How to Operate and Maintain a Bipedal Ape”.

We can see that during the long the course of the “evolution” of bipedal apes, what we call “unconscious processes” – mainly visual thinking, sensory thinking, acquisition of energy and interaction with the environment, and the task of growing and maintaining an animal body, were simply taken care of by the brain – and still are. Our pejorative use of the words “instinct and instinctual” knowledge and functions as something inferior, which “we” have left behind, is a nonsensical conclusion; an illusion produced  by the supposedly “superior” (and demonstrably less intelligent) “conscious verbal function” that is embraced, cultivated and worshipped by modern humans as a “God”.

Why would I state that the “unconscious” animal brain is more intelligent than the modern verbal function as a guidance system for human survival?

As an Asperger who relies on the unconscious as the “go to” source for patterns, systems, connections, networks and explanations for “how the universe works” it is obvious that nature itself provides the “master templates” for creating and implementing technological invention and innovation. Homo sapiens has “discovered” these templates (Laws of Physics) by means of mathematics, and the nature of these “languages of physical reality” remains a bit mysterious.

The problem arises with the assumption that the manifestation of technical ideas and products as solutions to the painful drudgery of manual labor is believed to confer intelligence of a truly different type: Wisdom – the ability to “forecast” consequences that potentially result from one’s actions, and the ability to modify present action accordingly. This is an almost impossible task for the human brain; it’s why we invent or seek out Big Parental Figures; employ statistical magic and other contrived nonsense, and “divine the future” in archaic religious texts, simultaneously, without distinction to common sense; we supply our own superstitious rules and clumsy structures to compensate for our utter lack of critical foresight and judgement.

Several notions help clarify this predicament.

1. “Nature” has done the work of “foresight” for us: we have access to knowledge stored in “instinct / unconscious content” and in the conscious apprehension of “how the environment works” through trial and error manipulation of real objects and materials and more recently by means of “abstract codes” and computing power by which we believe we can decipher “the magic universe” of human childhood.

That is, foresight is not “located” in seeing the “future” (which doesn’t exist in concrete form ) but by understanding the “eternal present”. These patterns are not mystical, magical or supernatural.

2. The deceptive mirage of “word thinking” goes unrecognized. The lure of being freed from the Laws of Nature is great! Word thinking is not “tied to” actual reality – it’s usefulness and value is in making propositions that owe no allegiance to the limits and boundaries of the “real world”. Word language CAN lead to rapid communication of information and dissemination of  useful concepts, but! There is no guarantee that this “information” is accurate – most ideas are created to provide for the motivation and justification of time and energy being expended in the pursuit of inflicting injury and suffering on other humans, and the control/exploitation of resources, plants,  animals and other life forms. This activity will never produce A Happy Ending. 

In fact, word thinking leads to the illusion of the reality and primacy of a supernatural domain, in which magic is the operating system. Predatory humans give themselves permission to dominate the environment via verbal constructs, whose origin is assigned to, and justified by, this imaginary supernatural realm. Social dominance  “for personal gain and pleasure” does not correspond to the “dominant role” in nature, which comes with great risk and responsibility and heavy consequences for the dominant individual. In humans, the goal in attaining dominance is a “free ride” on the backs of inferior beings. 

3. Oh boy! Screw nature: I’m in control! Bring on the spells, rituals, magic symbols, secret handshakes, rattles and drums; the abject obedience of “lesser beings” to my dictates. This is where social humans are today: technically powerful, abysmally ignorant of the consequences of our actions. We have cut ourselves off from access to the user’s manual that is included free with every brain.

4. Instead, we have created a delusional and self-destructive hatred and fear of a vital evolutionary legacy; unconscious thinking has been selected and slandered by certain predatory humans as the “cause” of pathologic behavior: mental illness, violence, depravity, abuse, “disobedience to social control” and to the “supernatural regime” of human social reality, when in fact, much of human “bad behavior” can be traced directly to the steeply hierarchical structures that dominate modern humans. From the top down (from tyrants, Pharaohs and other psycho-sociopaths, to the ranks of those who are their “prey”) it is the distortion of manmade supernatural “order” as the original and absolute truth of human existence that prevents the healthy growth and sanity of actual human beings. Much behavior that is destructive, abusive, cruel and irrational on the part of Homo sapiens is inevitable, given the abnormal, destructive and “killer” stresses built into modern social environments.

Sunday Culture / Art is Smart “The Smile” was forbidden

Social rules are so much fun: 

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The Serious and the Smirk: The Smile in Portraiture

Antonello da Messina Portrait of a Man Oil on panel, 12-14 x 9-5/8 in (31x 24.5 cm) Museo della Fondazione Culturale Mandralisca, Cefalu (Palermo)

Antonello da Messina’s Portrait of a Man (ca.1475)

Why do we so seldom see people smiling in painted portraits? Nicholas Jeeves explores the history of the smile through the ages of portraiture, from Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to Alexander Gardner’s photographs of Abraham Lincoln.

Smiling also has a large number of discrete cultural and historical significances, few of them in line with our modern perceptions of it being a physical signal of warmth, enjoyment, or indeed of happiness. (So much for the contention in American psychology that “normality” is an absolutist cross-culture scientific “truth”.)  

By the 17th century in Europe it was a well-established fact that the only people who smiled broadly, in life and in art, were the poor, the lewd, the drunk, the innocent, and the entertainment – some of whom we’ll visit later. Showing the teeth was for the upper classes a more-or-less formal breach of etiquette. St. Jean-Baptiste De La Salle, in The Rules of Christian Decorum and Civility of 1703, wrote:

There are some people who raise their upper lip so high… that their teeth are almost entirely visible. This is entirely contradictory to decorum, which forbids you to allow your teeth to be uncovered, since nature gave us lips to conceal them.

Thus the critical point: should a painter have persuaded his sitter to smile, and chosen to paint it, it would immediately radicalise the portrait, precisely because it was so unusual and so undesirable. Suddenly the picture would be ‘about’ the open smile, and this is almost never what an artist, or a paying subject, wanted.

Continued: http://publicdomainreview.org Wonderful Site!!

Speaking of teeth: The American “trend” is to display an impressively aggressive mouthful of fake teeth – a social “weapon” that one can purchase, just like a gun.

U.S. Culture: Idealized women are those with highly neotenic child faces, but with aggressive predatory chompers….What does this mean???? 

 

Morning thoughts on an Asperger problem

INDEPENDENCE

Being independent does not mean that I don’t want or need other people in my life, but most of the people who are available to us are social typical people. They know about needing and wanting other people. It’s a fact of life.

When they meet someone who is independent, they don’t know how to deal with that person. They may conclude that being independent means that we don’t want or need them. They take it personally; they are used to being needed. I think that it is incumbent on us to find a way to let that person know that we need other people in our lives.

I admit that I’m terrible at this. Being independent is so fundamental to my existence:  to my identity; to how I operate in the world. For me it equates with freedom. This is a mistake. I ought to be able to “be free” to think what I think; to say what I mean, to act on my principles and values and to take the consequences for that freedom as they come, but ought to, and “can do” are not the same.

Freedom is a buzzword in American democracy; not a fact of life. An abstract concept that in practice is available to few individuals. When brought down to specifics, it’s a subject that is under constant negotiation between individuals groups and the “state” – laws, traditions, customs, necessity and yes, the social hierarchy. In many cultures, religions and nations, it’s not even open to negotiation. It’s this “openness” to negotiation that is a source of political, cultural and social turmoil in our country – and a very serious problem inside the country today – and always has been. It is fundamental in our history.

I have obviously participated in these negotiations; accepted the benefits and taken considerable blows to my health and happiness by doing so. That is that: a condition of living that I fully accept.

But as an Asperger, I find that it’s the personal level of negotiations that is the most difficult. Social “needs and wants” are very different to what I want. One aspect of this is due to being female: an independent female is strange. Women are supposed to want people to “take care of them”. Men, for all the “trash talk” that goes around, take a great deal of pride and identity from taking care of women and children. And women, too, are often overloaded with the “cultural” message that “nurturing” is their task in the order of things. Their burden: selflessness. These two roles are natural, but can become obstacles in relationships. Who takes care of what, within family and society seams a simple question of negotiation – individual choices can be integrated into a practical solution.

Which person is good at task X? Enjoys task Y? Divide up the activity accordingly; share the remainder equitably.

I think that every Asperger realizes early on in childhood, that this is not how the social environment works. All kinds of other priorities exist: status, tradition, roles, interference by other people who think that they have the answers and the right, indeed even the authority to impose their ideas on others.

This is the point in analysis where my Asperger personality simply “looses it”. The social environment has been like this for thousands of years; a behemoth under no conscious control; a tangle of knots and threads beyond comprehension.

My answer to the frustration has been writing this blog, in the narrow quest of perhaps aiding other people like me in coping with the situation. I have learned much myself by jumping into the “problem” and untangling some of the bad ideas, prejudices and complicated “emotions” that drive the system. Old Aspergers can learn new tricks; new strategies, new personal revelations.

It’s funny, in a way, that the “problem” boils down to a simple question, How does an Asperger let other people know that we’re human, not just like them, and yet, very much like them?