While brain researchers wrestle with the physiological secrets of the mind, EPT (Emergence Personality Theory) has already identified the four master fractals. Based on what? Based on the visual intensity of what we picture. In this chapter of our ongoing series on education and learning, we're going to look at how these four master fractals dictate what we can and cannot learn.
Chapter Twenty Seven
Making the Mind Visible
Anyone having read James Gleick's book, Chaos, knows why we became aware of fractals when we did. In the late twentieth century, with the help of computers (and Benoit Mandelbrot), we became able to visually map life events. Weather to economics. Eye scan patterns to eureka's. Ironically, many scientists still attempt to interpret this data linearly rather than fractally. In other words, they search within this data for cause and effect relationships, rather than using these patterns as visual maps with which to navigate life.
The problem here is, fractals are, by nature, non linear. Thus, they cannot be interpreted linearly. Certainly not to find cause and effect relationships. To do this is akin to trying to determine the order of Monet's brush strokes, say, in his painting, "Haystack." Are his brush strokes fractally recognizable? Yes. Absolutely. Even by a young child. But knowable as cause and effect events? Of course not. This is simply not possible. Patently absurd even. In fact, Monet himself could not have done this. Nor would he have wanted to.
If we cannot use fractals to determine cause and effect relationships though, why then do scientists still try to use them this way? And what can we use fractals for if not to find cause and effect relationships?
Why do scientists still try to do this? Because finding "cause and effect relationships" is the nature of most of our sciences. And has been ever since Descartes got us to divide what we can measure from what we cannot. Then too, perhaps it is because we human beings still dream that eventually, we'll know enough about our world to predictively prevent suffering.
Unfortunately, this will never happen. Why? Because suffering is fractal; not linear. And because you cannot use a fractal to predict anything other than that these patterns will recur. Other than this, fractals have no predictive power. Not even the timing of these recurrences.
So what good are fractals then? Simple. We can use them to correlate, and visually map, the complexities of our life experiences with analogous non linear visual geometry. Translation. We can use fractals to help us to see our choices and in doing so, make life easier. Especially for our children.
Why am I telling you all this though? Because the four Visual Intensity Fractals I'm about to show you have never been mapped by other than direct observation. Mind you, I and my colleagues have been mapping them for over a decade now, and have mapped them in thousands of observed cases. Even so, as scientific types commonly discount subjective and objective reporting as being unscientific and worse, many scientists would dismiss what I'm about to show you.
Fortunately, as one of my heroes, the psychologist William James, observed, the only proof we need is that these observations can help someone. They need to have a practical use, in other words. So do these fractals pass James' test? Definitely. Especially, with regard to their potential to help our children to love learning.
So how exactly might we use these fractals to help our children learn? The possibilities fall basically into four categories.
Here, then, are the Four Visual Intensity Fractals, the four "VIF's" of Emergence Personality Theory. Certainly these four shapes hold enormous potential, starting with that we can now map out how an individual child's mind moves within the Four States of Learning. Right up to and including the point at which this child became unable to learn something.
Pin pointing these problems could then lead us to new and better ways in which we might restore, and conserve, our childrens' love of learning. One child at a time, rather than with broad brush, big group, impersonal efforts. Are you starting to see the potential here?
We also get a way to visually identify the exact point at which a child's ability to learn becomes unblocked. Subject by subject. Idea by idea. In other words, we get to know with certainty when a child has become open to this once blocked learning again.
Now let's explore how you might learn for yourselves how to see these four fractals. The actual visual patterns underlying the four VIF's; the four "learning to see life" events.
Learning to See the VIF Data - Observing the Fourth Visual Intensity Fractal
Let's start by looking at what it's like to gather this data. Can a human observer accurately gauge anything accurately? Or are the scientists right in telling us that subjective and objective reporting fails to lead to genuinely pragmatic proofs?
Fortunately for us, sorting this out is easy. Simply ask yourself this. Can you learn to see the difference between a dog and a cat? A bluebird and a blue jay? A maple leaf and an oak leaf? A pear and an orange?
Obviously the answer is, of course, you can. And learning to recognize, in people, the four Visual Intensity Fractals is no different.
Thus learning to see this data happens in the same way as we learn to recognize any fractal data, ocean waves to rose pedals. In fact, as I've been saying for chapters now, learning to see fractals is actually the only way we can truly come to know the nature of our world. Donuts to dog doodie. The same laws apply. No "recognizable visual patterns which always repeat differently." No access to the nature of a thing. Including the four things from which all learning stems. The four VIF's.
What I'm saying is, learning to see the visual intensity of what is on people's minds follows the same rules as those we use to learn anything in our world. We need to learn to recognize the infinitely variable yet recurring visual patterns of relationships in each of these fractals.
Please notice, now, what I did not say we need to do. I did not say we need to come to know "what" is in peoples' minds. Knowing this scientifically is simply not possible. At least not from directly observing peoples' eyes. And perhaps, not ever.
What we can know though is the visual intensity of "what is in peoples' minds."
Interestingly enough, babies learn, almost from birth, to see and respond to this visual intensity data. They in fact become expert in it long before they learn to speak.
Of course, because no one teaches us the meaning of this data, by two, we begin to forget we ever knew how to see it. Even so, because we all once knew how to see it, it is in us to see it again.
Don't believe me that babies learn to see this data? Then try this test. Next time you're out in public, try looking into the eyes of a baby in a baby carriage. A baby whom you've never met.
Second year of life babies work best.
Now while doing this, do your best to maintain open caring eye contact with this baby for as long can. If you do, what you'll find is, at some point, the baby will do a double take. Why? Because babies know only babies usually make this kind of visually intense eye contact.
What kind of eye contact am I referring to here? Eye contact which falls into the Fourth VIF. Heightened, bright, alive eye contact. In fact, if you do try this test, what will happen is that the visual intensity of what you observe; the baby's bright eyes, will brighten up your whole inner life. Not just emotionally or spiritually, mind you. Rather, this brightening will be a fully physical, conscious experience. A "connected to another being through two bright minds" experience.
Now consider this. Consider how the experience I've just described fits the qualities of the best teacher / student relationships. What do I mean?
What I'm saying is, what did you think the baby was doing when you made that "connected to another being through two bright minds" eye contact?
What was she doing? She was waiting for you to teach her something. Bright eyed and perfectly open and willing to see your offerings.
Here then is a model for the perfect student / teacher relationship.
Is this visual intensity stuff beginning to make sense?
Learning to see the VIF Data for the First Fractal
Now let's look at what the converse experience is like. The First VIF. The "making information more important than people" experience. What does this fractal look like?
To see, ask someone you know well if they would be willing to help you to learn something about the mind. Someone you trust. Someone who, like you, loves learning.
Now ask them to sit across from you at a small table. Or in a chair facing you, a few feet apart. Wherever you decide to sit though, make sure you sit close enough to comfortably observe your colleague's eyes.
Now hand this person a technically challenging book, a computer manual perhaps. Now tell them that in a moment, you're going to ask that he or she open this book to any page and begin reading aloud. Slowly, and deliberately.
Note the word, "slowly." Slowly is the key here.
Now add to this that you'd like your friend to picture each word as she reads it. Every word. Word by word. Ergo, the slow pace.
Finally, tell her you're going to be observing, and recording on a piece of paper, how many times you see her eyes go flat. Or look empty. Or appear dull. Thus, while she is reading, you'll be recording a stroke mark each time you see her eyes empty.
What will it be like?
At first, you may feel quite uncomfortable. A bit awkward, even. After all, you've most likely not been have aware of this VIF eye pattern data since you, yourself, were in your second year of life. At least not in a deliberately chosen, open and sensitive way.
Even so, within minutes, I'm sure you'll find yourself getting the hang of it and when you do, you'll easily be able to record "blankness" strokes for each and every empty eye pattern you see.
Now try it. Have your friend read to you while you observe her eyes. Slowly, remember? And remember, for every empty look, write a stroke mark on your pad.
Now continue this for a minute or two.
How did you do? Did it get easier as you went on? For most people, learning to do this comes quite naturally. Given you have a comfortable partner with which to learn.
So what did you just learn? Mainly, you learned to recognize the First VIF. Here, "dull" is the word to remember.
Oddly, we already use this word in our everyday language to describe peoples' flat eyes. We just never recognize the meaning of this dullness, let alone that it correlates directly to the visual intensity of what was just on the screen of the person's mind.
What does this visual pattern mean again? It is the First VI Fractal. The "making information more important than people" fractal. Moreover, what you're seeing here is the person trying to picture a word mentally. This mental effort then empties her mind, even if she can normally picture the word. Why? It's simply a matter of focus. Mental versus visual. And when this happens, we momentarily have no visual accessible.
Occasionally, this lack of a picture also has a second meaning. In these times, it may indicate yet another problem we humans have; the idea that we do not easily picture words which use "negation."
What I'm saying is, the screen of our minds usually empties on words like "don't," "no," "not," and "isn't." Why? Because human beings simply cannot picture words like, "isn't," easily. We can picture only, "is," then, "is" stopping.
Complicated, right? To say the least. In fact, I recently had a wonderful conversation with a man who teaches high school auto mechanics about this very thing. In it, I showed him a bit of how the Visual Intensity Fractals might work in his classroom.
Know this man is probably one of the best teachers out there. How could I tell? Because he told me he so loves connecting kids to the mysteries of his trade. In fact, I could clearly see this as true by how his eyes looked as he spoke. How did they look?
His eyes were so bright, they lit up the room.
Ever met a teacher like this?
What then did we talk about exactly? That despite his focus being to teach auto mechanics, that he often found himself having to teach his kids to read. Imagine? I then told him what I did for a living and suggested he need know only one secret about teaching kids to read; the idea that they must picture the words in order to have actually read them. At which point, to demonstrate, I walked up to a sign posted on a bulletin board and began to read the words with him, while at the same time asking him to tell me what he pictured.
The first word? "Don't." Of course, I saw his eyes go flat. So did mine.
The second? "Hit." Here, his eyes brightened a bit. Thus I knew he was picturing something.
I then asked him to tell me what he pictured as he read the word "hit." What did he picture? Telling a little kid not to hit another kid. No coincidence, I had just pictured the very same thing.
Here then is a perfect example of how knowing the VI fractals can change peoples' lives. How? This man obviously couldn't picture the negated word, "don't." At the same time, he easily pictured the second non negated word, "hit."
The thing is, the sign was posted in an auto repair shop, and the message was a warning saying, "Don't hit the gas ... "
When I showed him how he had been involuntarily picturing a kid being warned not to hit, and not picturing the negated word, don't" let alone a gas pedal his eyes lit up. Why? He had an aha. About what? About the very nature of teaching kids to read; that teaching kids to read requires you get them to picture the words.
I also knew this fellow had just gone from a non fractal visual intensity (as in, we were casually talking), to the First VI Fractal (which happened to him when he tried to read the word; "don't"), to the Fourth VI Fractal (when he realized, with amazement, how picturing is reading). All this change in the span of a few casual moments. All from my being able to recognize the VIF's.
Of course, there is always the possibility that I've overstated the good here. Perhaps I've exaggerated his reaction. Do you think? Knowing this was possible then, before this teacher left, I posited to him that I had probably just changed his life. As well as the lives of many of his students. To which he replied, bright eyed and broadly smiling, that I probably just had.
Learning to see the VIF Data for the Second Fractal
So what does the data for the Second VI Fractal look like, the look you see in a kid's eyes when a startling life event wounds her ability to learn?
Hopefully, you'll not see this fractal too often. Why? Because this fractal is the look in a kid's eyes when he or she has just been startled out of the love of learning. Not all learning, mind you. But some particular kind of learning. Algebra, for instance. Or drawing with water colors.
What kinds of events provoke this Second VI Fractal?
The horrible "laughed at by the kids for mispronouncing a word" events.
Or the "I am the stupidest kid in the class room; I can't get it" feeling.
Or the "I'll never learn this, so why should I try anymore" kind of experience.
Or the "I'll never be as smart as they are, so why am I even here" occurrence.
What do these events look like in a person's eyes?
Begin by knowing that people's eyes here look very similar to how they look with the First VI Fractal. They look dull and lifeless. What makes this look different though is the speed at which this dull look comes on the person. With the First VI Fractal, the dullness dawns on the person. And with the Second VI Fractal, the dullness invades the person.
Of course, the problem is, if these occurrences are rare, how can you learn to identify this fractal? To see, let's first talk about how the last of the four VI Fractals looks; the "reliving a wounding event" experience.
Learning to see the VIF Data for the Third Fractal
And the Third VIF? What does this eye pattern data look like?
Again, the main thing to watch for is dull, lifeless eyes. Unfortunately, at this point, I've probably totally confused you. Why? In effect, I've told you three of the four VI Fractals result in dull eyes. So how can you tell them apart?
How? By learning to discern the visual patterns of the four red fractal lines you'll find in this chapter's drawing. Here, the four are:
Now see if you can notice how these four lines resemble each other. Starting with that they all represent a measure of how bright the person's eyes are. As well as the visual intensity of what is on the person's mind.
Now notice that in all four fractals, the lines first show an increase in visual intensity, and then a decrease.
At this point, though, the similarities end.
Now notice how slowly, or quickly, the visual intensity rises in all four fractals. Slowly in the first fractal. Abruptly but smoothly in the second. Abruptly but raggedly in the third. And abruptly but transitioning from ragged to smooth in the fourth.
This part of these curves; the rising part of these four red lines, is called the "onset ramp." It describes how slowly or quickly a person's visual intensity rises. It also describes how evenly or unevenly this person's visual intensity rises.
As for learning to see the specific differences here, let's start with VI Fractal number 1, the "getting overwhelmed" fractal.
When we get overwhelmed (VIF #1), the visual intensity of what we see rises gradually. Whereas when our "ability to learn gets blocked" (VIF #2), the visual intensity of what we see rises abruptly but smoothly.
Oddly, when we "relive an event wherein our ability to learn got blocked" (VIF #3), the visual intensity of what we see as we relive it rises differently than in the original event. In this case, it rises abruptly but irregularly.
Finally, when we "Learn by Emergence" (VIF #4), the visual intensity of what we see rises abruptly and unevenly at first, then changes to a smoothly elating rise. The "high because I just got it," "high on life" feeling.
How then do you know which of these fractals is in play? These four onset ramps play out in peoples' eyes. Moreover, the more you learn to discern these onsets, the more skilled you become at identifying each of these fractals.
Learning to See the "Aftermath" Curves
Okay. So we've talked about the front end of these curves. The rising part, or the "onset ramp." What about the falling part then? The back end of these curves? The "aftermath" curves? What does this part of these lines tell us?
In essence, it tells us the degree to which we will have visual recall after the event. How the aftermath of these four events will play out on the screen of our minds.
Thus, with VIF #1 events (overwhelming events), we have a vague but strong recall. And yes, we can remember these events as having been uncomfortable. Why? Because we took in "too much information." However, because our personalities do not get reprogrammed, we experience no real lasting pain. Only the memory of having been uncomfortable.
And in the VIF #2 events? In the events wherein our ability to learn gets blocked, we have intensely powerful recall up to and including the point at which the visual intensity peaks. However, an instant later, we lose our ability to recall the event. Certainly, visually, and at times, even logically.
From the visual intensity peak on then, we have virtually no recall whatsoever. Moreover, this holds true no matter how learned or spiritual we might have become. Why? Because "consciousness" is the skill of picturing movement. And because non visual states of mind mean we have become unconscious.
This, then, is what happens to our minds when life startles us while we are picturing. We abruptly lose our ability to picture life and cannot bring this ability back no matter how hard we try.
How about VIF #3 events? How do they end up?
Like VIF #2 events (events wherein our ability to learn gets blocked), in VIF #3 events (events wherein we relive getting a block), we also have intensely powerful recall up to the point at which the visual intensity peaks. As well as having little to no visual recall from that point on. In addition, however, we also have the added discomfort of involuntarily anticipating the loss of our visual guidance system. And this anticipation makes reliving wounds worse than experiencing them in the first place.
what I'm saying is, reliving the lose of the ability to learn is worse than losing it in the first place. And yes, I realize this is as counter intuitive a statement as one could ever make. Nonetheless, it is absolutely true, and the third VIF proves it. Thus, plotting the VIF of any learning block will reveal this anticipation. Something which could not have been there in the original event. How could it have been? We so never saw it coming that we got startled.
Finally, with VIF #4 events (the events wherein new learning emerges; the "aha" experiences), not only are we able to vividly recall the onset of the event, we also clearly recall the aftermath. Visually intense and very alive. Moreover, because, when we learn, we get to enjoy this visual aftermath, these experiences feel quite similar to how we felt as babies. Especially in our second year of life. Bright. Alive. Exhilarated. And free. The consummate little students of life.
Before I close, I've two things to address. First, what makes me call these four curves, "fractal"? Second, the idea that "learning" and "healing"is the same experience, just stated by people wearing two different hats.
What makes these curves, "fractal"? Only one thing. They fully meet the definition; all four are "recognizable patterns of visual relationships which always repeat differently."
The "recognizable pattern" part?
The shape of the curves. Both the onset ramps and the aftermath curves always repeat in recognizable ways. Thus, no matter how widely the duration and range of intensity may vary, the curves remain visibly the same.
And the "always repeat differently" part?
Here, we need to focus on that the duration and range of the measured visual intensity always do vary. Sometimes mildly. Sometimes widely. But always, they vary, and in infinitely complex ways. Sort of like snow flakes which also remain recognizable while at the same time, always vary in duration and intensity. You know. The "no two snow flakes are alike" idea.
Of course, with these four VIF's, we are talking about the "snow flakes" from which our entire personalities form. Imagine? The four basic building blocks from which every single life experience stored in our personalities emerge.
And the second idea; that "learning" and "healing" are really the same experience, just stated by people wearing two different hats?
Those whose minds primarily work fractally (in other words, those with minds like mine is; still "baby minded") will probably have noticed this idea already. The idea that saying that "our ability to learn becomes blocked" is simply another way to say, our ability to learn has been "wounded."
Expanding on this idea a bit now, in reality, this description for being wounded holds true whether we are talking about becoming unable to learn geometry or becoming unable to learn to speak to one's spouse. Learning is learning, no matter what the focus.
This idea, in fact; that we get "wounded" whenever we get startled while hypervisual, is the entire basis for Emergence Personality Theory. As well as for the therapy which bears the same name; Emergence Therapy.
This then leads us to the other side of the "blocked abilities to learn" idea. The idea that saying "learning" is "emerging from these blocks in our ability to learn." In truth, this is just another way to say, this is how we "heal our wounds." Which, among other things, is how we learn to love.
In truth, these four curves represent a major improvement in our whole understanding of how we, as human beings, develop and function overall. As well as what makes us unable to develop and function at times. The nature of "dysfunction," if you will.
The thing is, we all know that schools should not be the forum for therapeutic interventions. Teachers are not trained therapists. If what I've been telling you is true though, how then do we reconcile what I've been saying here; the idea that getting wounded is losing our ability to learn and that healing is healing our ability to learn?
On this, I as yet have no clear answer as to how this could all play out in our schools. Obviously, if the VIF's really exist, then the boundaries between teaching and healing blur. Seriously blur. And while no child should be subjected to therapy by untrained professionals, perhaps we educators have a lot of rethinking to do.
Perhaps "real teachers" are "real therapists"?
In at least the case of the teacher I told you about in this chapter, I'm sure this is the case.
It seems then we have a lot to think about.
Until next week. I hope you are all well.