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Topic: Representation of concepts

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Subject:   RE: Representation of concepts
Author: Valerie
Date: Mar 11 2005
I am interested in the subject of visual vs words as well. Modern brain research
into left brain (verbal) and right brain (visual) functions is very interesting
and insightful. Most people are left brain dominant and rely on words and
numbers for learning. The less common right brain dominant students do not rely
on language. They are visual thinkers.

Left brain dominant students are the "inchworms." They are good at sequencing
and learn step by step. They think using language including the language of
mathematics. Inchworms focus on parts, attend to details, objectively look at
facts to determine useful formulas, use serial-ordered steps to solve
problems, use pencil and paper to compute, and use words to talk themselves
through the problem.

Right brain dominant students are the "grasshoppers," thinking visually and
holistically. They like graphs, pictures, diagrams, and manipulatives.
Grasshoppers will look at the facts to determine an estimate or range of
restrictions. They don't often use serial ordered steps but instead tend to
"hop." They tend to perform calculations mentally or prefer to draw out or build
the problem. Grasshoppers will take the numbers in a problem and instead of
using them as they are given as the inchworms do, right brain dominant students
will break them down and build them back up. Grasshoppers learn best by
exploration and visual aids.

Both types of students will benefit from learning each other's preferred
thinking and problem solving styles. Teaching to both cognitive styles will
enable more flexibility in numbers for all students. A multisensory teaching
approach will enable the inchworms to build up their latent grasshopper
abilities and enable the grasshoppers to strengthen their inchworm abilities.

There is a great book on visual thinkers, like Einstein, called In the Minds
Eye: Visual Thinkers, Gifted People with Dyslexia and Other Learning
Difficulties, Computer Images and the Ironies of Creativity. It's written by
Thomas G. West of the Visualization Research Institute and the National Dyslexia
Research Foundation. It is available through The International Dyslexia
Association ttp:// . In the
Mind's Eye exposes many popular myths about conventional intelligence by
examining the role of visual-spatial strengths and verbal weaknesses in the
lives of eleven gifted individuals, including Albert Einstein.

Einstein said that "the words or the language, as they are spoken or written, do
not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The physical entities
which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less
clear images which can be voluntarily reproduced and combined...These elements
are, in my case, of visual and some of muscular type. Conventional words or
other signs have to be sought for laboriously only in a second stage when the
mentioned associative play is sufficiently established and can be reproduced at

Along with In the Mind's Eye, read Two Styles of Performing Mathematics by J.
Bath, and Dyslexia and Mathematics edited by T.R. Miles and E. Miles. Also look
up the work of the psychobiologist Roger W. Sperry who recieved a nobel prize
for his research on human brain hemisphere functions.  

I'm not sure about whether females and males differ on cognitive styles. I have
read several studies on the subject. I always thought that men were more visual
thinkers and girls more verbal; however, I am a strong visual thinker whereas my
husband is a strong language thinker. Our 13 year old son is a very strong
visual thinker to the point that his left brain functions are weak and need
remediation. We approach his education in a multisensory style, utilizing his
visual, grasshopper gifts to build up and strengthen his language weaknesses.


On Mar 11 2005, ycc wrote:
>In particular, I
> wonder whether for some kinds of people, they tend to use diagram in
> trying to understand a new concept whereas some other people tend to
> use words instead.

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