Are Patterns What You Think They Are?

It’s likely that you know a lot more AND a lot less about patterns than you think you do!

In the movie A Beautiful Mind, there is a scene where Russell Crowe’s character looks up at the night sky and illustrates all the beautiful patterns he can see. How great it would be to see the world that way! What a gift!

The truth is we all have a beautiful mind! This is what author Malcolm Gladwell’s premise is in his bestselling book Blink- The Power of Thinking without Thinking. Gladwell brought to light exactly how our first impressions and our intuitions are actually our amazing and natural gift of being able to decode and process patterns.

Here are a couple examples that demonstrate how our mind uses patterns in learning. They are very much in line with what Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book.

Patterns in Children’s Learning and Education

Have you ever watched children who are new to a social situation simply stand on the sidelines observing before making their foray into the group? Consciously or unconsciously… they are likely trying to figure out what is going on. What are the rules and what is the hierarchy? If they see a certain interaction once, it may be random, but if they see it a few times, and it forms a pattern, the child will be able to determine what the social norms are.

Patterns in Student Test Taking

One test-taking strategy that teachers have taught students for generations confirms the theories which Malcolm Gladwell explores in his book. This test-taking strategy is, “Don’t change your original answer unless you are positive that it is wrong.” Basically, first guesses are often connected to micro-patterns that our brain instantly decoded. This is why we teach students to trust their initial instinct unless they are sure otherwise. (i.e. Don’t go back and change answers unless you are positive your old answer is wrong and your new answer is right.)

Exploring pattern across the curriculum can truly breathe new life into old curriculum! Be sure to check out Malcolm Gladwell’s book. It may change the way you think!

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