Read an Excerpt
THE OPEN MIND
Exploring the 6 Patterns of Natural Intelligence
By Dawna Markova
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 1996 Dawna Markova, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
Learning is Discovering that Something is Possible
... and you know how to look and learn, then the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either that key or the door to open, except yourself.
To be educated is not so much to be taught as it is to be awakened to who you really are. This chapter invites you to open to the journey.
From My Heart to Yours
The ancient Greeks believed the location of the human mind was in the heart. They reasoned that since the mind was essential, it must inhabit the most vital of all organs. Wounds to the head were not always deadly, but wounds to the heart were. They assumed, therefore, the mind must live in the heart.
If my heart could do my thinking would my brain begin to feel?
A friend of mine who is Chinese points to the center of her chest whenever she says, "my mind." She tells me this gesture is common in her culture.
Although we know new blood is constantly flowing through the chambers of our heart, renewing our entire system, once we are adults we assume the capacities of our minds are fixed. We close ourselves off to a myriad of possibilities: "I'm just not an articulate person." Or, "I'm a left-brained kind of a guy." But what if we could open our minds to an inflow of new ideas about what we are capable of doing, knowing and being?
I want to bring you into a comfortable kinship with the open mind of your heart. Hopefully, as a result of reading this book, you will begin to trust yourself and to know the world in new ways. I'd like to think that your curiosity will rekindle into an alive, available resource, and that the barriers you have created—the hard, solid crust that keeps the rest of the world out and you isolated within—will soften into boundaries that define your own space and allow a fundamental intimacy with others.
People Learn in Different Ways
This book invites you to learn how you learn. It will not tell you how smart you are, but it will help you discover HOW you are smart. It is written as an operator's manual for adults who are attempting to grow up as they grow older, for adolescents who are about to get their license to drive their minds on their own, for teachers, care givers, and lovers. It is written for anyone who defines himself or herself as a learner, or who has difficulties with recall, organization, or absorption of information and experience. It is for those of us who keep getting stuck in communication gaps when what we are attempting to create is a means of getting through, a meeting place where minds can touch. It is for eagles who are tired of living in cages as if they were chickens.
What is included here is what was excluded from school. The immense educational system in this country teaches people how to do quantum physics (well, some people anyway!), speak German, analyze the syntax of a sentence, and use fancy laboratory equipment and expensive computers, but it never teaches them how to operate their own minds.
The self is learned. What is learned can be taught
—Virginia Satir; Peoplemaking
We live in an age when we are being forced to deal with rapidly increasing rates of social and political change. The organization of information and the development of human resources is our new frontier. Of necessity, we must learn to facilitate the process of learning. Rather than merely accumulating new theories and more information that will be outmoded in a few years, our focus must shift to learning how to learn.
You will not find ultimate answers or solutions here, but I hope this book will lead you to a sense of the divine, a respect for the mystery that is involved in being human. It will not tell you where to go or what to do, but it will help you find the path with a gait that is your own. It will not make your life easy, but it will help you understand how you can think, learn, and communicate more effectively.
My intent is to create conditions where you can make discoveries about yourself and others, but there will be no real surprises. The principles are new perspectives of old landscapes, a useful vocabulary which enables you to talk about and grasp what talented communicators, teachers, and therapists have known intuitively all along—that people learn in different ways.
This book will help you understand which of six particular patterns of natural intelligence your mind uses to concentrate, create, and mentate, and to understand its traits, gifts, and idiosyncrasies. This is not a two-dimensional mental technology that you do to other people. It is a guide for communicating with others at work and home as they are, rather than as you think they should be.
This is not the only model for studying mental syntax, the order in which people think. There are systems that utilize similar processes to some you will find in this book, but their more technical emphasis on categorizing the workings of the human mind takes them in a very different direction.
The coming to consciousness is not a new thing; it is a long and painful return to that which has always been.
—Helen Luke, The Inner Story
I wrote The Open Mind so you could learn to trust your own mind with all of its wild detours and unrelenting obsessions. I designed it so you could rediscover the natural impulses lost from your childhood. I conceived it to help you create confidence in your own capacities.
My hope is that this book will provide you with a frame over which you can stretch the canvas of your own experience. It is meant to give direction and shape, to bring to light the art that lies dormant in your life.
As a heart pumps, it opens and closes. As I've put out these ideas over the last thirty years, there has been a tremendous inflow of feedback from others about how to teach and use them effectively. Consequently, this system itself has continually been transformed.
In rereading the first book I wrote about this approach, The Art of the Possible, I realized it did not come near to expressing the collective current thinking about how people's minds work, so I decided to write a new version. What you now hold in your hands is a paper replica of what has been shared with me, a collection of flexing mirrors held up to the light.
The Spring from Which This Book Flows
This approach to understanding how your mind works is based upon a matrix woven together from the wisdom of my grandmother and the most important practitioner and teacher of medical hypnotherapy in this century, Milton Erickson, M.D., as well as research in clinical and educational psychology, perceptual modalities, learning theory, hypnotherapy, expressive arts therapy, and the martial arts. Strands have been added from 30 years of teaching in classrooms, and a private practice in psychotherapy, as well as hundreds of consultations with a broad spectrum of people from business, health care, education and social service organizations.
My grandmother taught me that it is possible to see, to hear, to feel through your heart, and that if you really want to understand someone, it's necessary to open your mind. Milton cherished the uniqueness of every human being he came in contact with. Through him, I developed a passionate curiosity about finding each person's unique natural intelligence, and what condition would most help him or her manifest it in the world.
I do not much believe in education. Each man ought to be his own model. However frightful that may be.
I have been inspired by the excellent and extensive research that Marie Carbo and Kenneth Dunn and others at St. John's University in New York have done into the effects of teaching children to read using their "unique learning style," a combination of perceptual, environmental, and organizational preference.
When I was in graduate school, training in psychological and educational assessment, my professors taught me that we all think in the same way and that some of us have more intelligence than others. But when I was student teaching in the "inner city," the children helped me discover that we are all naturally "abled" in different ways. The ones I was drawn to working with were the "odd ones," those that everyone else had given up on. They were a motley assortment of "unteachables," classified as unsocialized, retarded, learning disabled, autistic, emotionally disturbed, dyslexic, hyperactive—the wounded and broken ones. I was supposed to figure out what was wrong with them, put the diagnosis in black ink on a white form, and keep them out of everyone's way.
I spent three weeks trying to be a "teacher." Control was theirs and my jaws resembled a pair of rusty vise grips. I was thinking seriously of other careers—driving a fork lift truck in Utah, for example. Since there was no way to be Right with these kids, I was terrified. So I did the only thing I knew how to do when terrified: I read a book. Fortunately I stumbled upon one entitled Beyond Culture, by an anthropologist named Edward Hall. Although it was neither psychology nor education, the kids I was working with were certainly beyond any culture I had ever known in my sheltered suburban upbringing! While riding the subway from 125th Street to Grand Central Station, the following words by Hall illuminated my desperation:
"All of my experience and research in how people perceive, life experiences teaching various professional groups, clients, students, who image differently in their brains, created sufficient impact to jolt me out of the restraining perceptual and conceptual bonds of my own culture. I began to ask all students how they remembered things and how their senses were involved in the process of thinking. Most of them, of course, hadn't the remotest notion of how they thought or remembered and had to go through a long process of self-observation. When they finally did begin to discover something about how their senses were ordered, they invariably jumped to the conclusion that everyone else was just like them, a notion they tenaciously held ... This common projection of one's sensory capacities or lack of them may explain why teachers are frequently impatient with or unsympathetic to students who do not have the same sensory capacities as the teacher."
People are different from one another. A leader must be aware of these differences, and use them for optimization of everybody's abilities and inclinations. Management of industry, education, and government operate today under the supposition that all people are alike. People learn in different ways, and at different speeds. Some learn best by reading. Some by listening. Some by watching pictures, still or moving. Some by watching someone do it ... One is born with a natural inclination to learn and be innovative.
—W. Edwards Deming. Ph.D., "A System Of Profound Knowledge"
Not only had I found the information that had been missing in every learning theory I had been taught, but Mr. Hall's words also pointed a finger right to the children. Ask the kids! Why didn't anyone ask the kids how they learned?
I couldn't wait to get to school the next morning, too excited even to do the New York Times crossword puzzle on the subway. I burst into the classroom, and before the kids were out of the coat room, I was besieging them with questions about how they learned. Needless to say, my approach was a bit overwhelming. Samantha, who was all pigtails and wide brown eyes, looked at me quizzically and exclaimed, "I don't understand what you are askin' me, Miz Dawna, but you sure got a burnin' in you!"
I humbly spent the rest of the day being dumb, something I had not given myself permission to do since I was five. It became immediately obvious that there were many things these children had already learned how to accomplish. They may have been lost in a world of paper, but there were worlds in which their various intelligences could be found. The standardized IQ tests told me how unsmart they were, but when I was willing to get "dumb," it became obvious how they were smart.
Samantha was right. Something in me was burning, and has continued to for the last 30 years. It takes a lot of hard work to make a young child not learn. A lot of control, a lot of de-skilling. When you were young, you learned the incredibly complicated tasks of walking and talking, naturally. You did not have to be motivated or formally instructed. Each of us learns in his or her own time, in his or her own way. An oak already exists inside an acorn; the possibilities of our lives already live within us, waiting for enough warmth and light to unfurl.
It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modem methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.
It would not be at all accurate to say I discovered the approach that is outlined in this book. Children taught it to me. The Odd Ones. The kids who couldn't, wouldn't, and shouldn't fit into neat little standardized diagnostic compartments. The kids I taught in the slums of Harlem, the migrant labor camp in Coconut Creek, the suburbs of Larchmont, and the back woods of Orfordville. The kids who helped me know that it was my responsibility to uncover the specific approach for each of them. It was my responsibility to find the needed resource, the ability, the health already there and to foster it. I name them as my teachers, the Joes and Jeromes, the Janes and Samanthas, for they truly have been the muses of this work.
My dream is that one day this book will be passed into some of their hands, whether they are in prison now in Florida, driving a freight train through the corn fields of Iowa, or performing appendectomies in an emergency room in Nairobi. I delight in imagining them reading these words and standing a little straighter as they discover how deep a fingerprint they have left in the wet clay of my mind.
Using This Book
The Open Mind teaches you to use the instrument of your mind to learn more easily and communicate more effectively. There is conceptual information presented for logical, organized understanding; there are narrative descriptions of people applying this approach to their lives, as well as practices for experiential, empirical understanding; there are stories, dreams, and anecdotes to support intuitive comprehension.
When I am teaching, I find myself continually slipping into stories. To know through metaphor is to uncover the design, the pattern of possibilities, the whole of a thing. To know through a story is to know through your heart.
In acquiring any new global skill, the initial learning is often a struggle, first with each component skill, then with the smooth integration of components ... Later, one almost forgets about having learned to read, learned to drive, learned to draw.
—Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Many of the stories in this book are anecdotes drawn from the lives of people who have studied with me. They are actual, honest- to-goodness people whose stories, statements, and questions are included because their individual journeys seem to transcend personality, and speak in a common voice. Unless labeled so, they are not composites, reasonable facsimiles, or fabrications of my fertile imagination. However, I've disguised names and certain identifying details to protect their privacy, and sometimes presented condensed versions for clarity's sake.
Chapter 2 helps you to identify and understand the functioning of the three different status of consciousness—beta, alpha and theta—that your mind uses to think. Chapter 3 describes the symbolic languages your mind uses to process information in order to organize, sort, and make new patterns from your experience.
Chapter 4 gives you an overview of the thinking patterns as well as some tools to help you discover your own. Chapters 6–10 give you an in-depth understanding of each personal thinking pattern, as well as guidelines for getting along with people whose minds use this form of natural intelligence.
Chapter 11 is concerned with using this skill to meet your personal needs and get unstuck in your thinking, while Chapter 12 concentrates on the application of this skill to relating and communicating compassionately with others. Chapter 13 is an open inquiry, containing the most frequently asked questions about this approach. And Chapter 14 discusses the ethics of using this information and its larger implications.
After making such a fuss over the fact that all minds learn differently, it would be an absurd contradiction to share this model with you in only one way. Therefore, the information of this book is presented using several different processes.
One will ask you to learn through your body, kinesthetically; another will show the information visually, using charts, diagrams, and photographs; still another will present the information through verbal descriptions, dialogues, and interviews. In addition, there are stories and anecdotes to illustrate the specific ways this information can be used in daily situations.
Excerpted from THE OPEN MIND by Dawna Markova. Copyright © 1996 Dawna Markova, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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