It took me years to figure this out, so enjoy the hard-won information.
There’s been no small amount of study in the area of how people perceive the world. More specifically, there’s been rather involved research in how people ingest information or how they “learn”. A standardized “here’s a room with a person in front and yammer yammer yammer write write write oh boy a test” works for a large number of people in some predictable fashion and that continues to be dominant, but anybody who’s done research in this field tends to acknowledge that some people are different in how they might learn a given subject, and to what depth they’d take in what was being presented.
There’s all sorts of stop-gap handling of this in educational systems, ranging from specialized tutoring and learning materials, down to “let’s ignore bo-tard until he goes away”. There’s also alternative learning systems and thoughts on better ways to present subjects so the student, young or old, can not just rote-recite a subject, but fundamentally understand the principles involved.
So one of the things that’s come out of all this study is the theory that people actually learn better based on different input methods – some handle physical demonstrations, some read better, others listen better. While it’s good to have skill sets that encompass all these methods, you tend to learn best through a specific method.
Some time ago, I realized I have real trouble listening.
Reading, there’s no problem there. If you write me something, I can refer to it, deal with the information, process it. But say something to me, and you might very well be talking down a hole. I have spent some time trying to improve this, because I’m a conversational person, but the fact is, there’s a good chance that I will walk away with very few pieces of a spoken set of instructions. I’m good for about 3-4 facts. Give it to me in a written form, and I’ll be able to nail most of it for the next time I’m asked to recount it.
In fact, I’m perhaps too good at collating incoming information that I can convert to written form; I just had a conversation with a couple friends over lunch in which I was just blowing out trivia fact after trivia fact based on a general “what do you know of this” question. When the response was to a specific subset of those facts, I could keep going, focusing on the trivia facts that fit under that constricted software. It’s effortless for me.
But if someone asks me “what did I just say” to something they just said, I dodge and weave and parry and can’t quite recall it. My brain has a blind spot to it.
For what it’s worth, it’s not interpersonal; I seem to have the same issues with colors, and can’t at all remember them unless I can relate it to something or write it down. So right now I couldn’t tell you the color of a single house that isn’t my own, and I can only tell you the color of my house because I did some investigation into having it painted a new color – so I needed to know the old one in some way.
I suspect this is why I’ve always enjoyed sorting text and files – they’re static sets of written information, and I can recall vast amounts of their contents in classifying orgies that last for weeks on end. I enjoy it as much as anything else, and I know for others it’s horrible drudgery. Not so over here.
Anyway, once I realized this, once I started asking people to write me things like instructions or directions or lists of facts, a weight of sadness fell off of my shoulders. I could recall what people were up to, what they wanted, what was left to do. I was engaged and happy.
I wonder how many people are wandering around, miserable, without knowing why their attempts to learn don’t stick.
Categorised as: jason his own self
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