In an article, I wrote some time ago called “You Know More Than You Realize” I talked about how everything connects. I mentioned that if we take the time to consider what we understand concerning different topics we discover that we know a lot. This week I watched a program on PBS about Conceptual Mind Mapping that gave me further insight. The program was about how they are utilizing these maps in schools. They use them to determine what a child knows about a subject so that the teachers can clearly understand what they need to learn. As I watched I became absorbed by the information they offered about how our mind works and how naturally we develop concepts. In addition, this program helped me gain some insight into horses, as I realized that they are incapable of developing concepts.
We had decided that when our grand kids came for a visit that we would instruct our grandson, Noah, how to use the riding lawn mower. As Mark and I discussed the presentation, I had watched we began to realize how useful this idea is. The program instructed to start your map by choosing a topic and placing it at the top of a page in a circle. This topic they called “The Big Idea”. Mark and I had already decided that Noah could mow our lawn using the riding lawn mower. After we wrote down the idea of Noah’s mowing, we then made a graph containing all the concepts that he currently understood. We determined that Noah had what they call a “General Concept” about the task he was looking forward to doing.
Discovering What You Know and Understand
As we compiled our graph, it became obvious to us what we needed to show Noah when it came to using this machine. The reason he had a general concept about doing this job is that he knew how to do things pertaining to it. Noah had used a push mower, so he had a concept of mowing. He had steered a four-wheeler and driven our tractor a bit so he had a concept of driving. As we reflected on his experience, we became confident that Noah could easily do this job, which was something he had never done before. As Noah began, mowing it was fun to see how much he actually knew about doing this. It was familiar to him. He managed to complete the task without much instruction. When we did offer information to help him further develop his concept, he easily made the connections.
I had shown Noah how to keep his right wheel on his mowing path, and he understood the reason for doing this, I thought. It turns out that he did not fully grasp the concept, and I realized this after Mark showed him how to back up. I could tell that Noah’s concept of backing something up was minimal. As Mark introduced him to the idea of backing up, he helped him understand by asking him which way he wanted his butt to go. Turning the wheels in the opposite direction to turn the machine was a new concept to him. The connection to turn the machine in a forward motion was somewhat unhelpful in this situation. You could say that Noah had a misconception concerning turning while backing up. After Mark helped him turn around, I noticed another misconception or an incomplete understanding.
Noah was now driving in another direction; therefore, it was necessary for him to align his left wheel with the mowing path. He was mowing with the right hand wheel on that path, specifically as I had shown him. I pointed this out to Mark. He proceeded to explain to Noah that when he went in that direction, he needed to use the other wheel as his guide. Now Noah had more than just a general concept concerning remaining on the mowing path. I chuckle when I reflect on how I assumed he understood what he was doing. I had delivered an idea to him without making it understandable. By the time Noah was finished with his fun, he had more than a general concept, of using the riding mower. He had developed the concept, and now he can move forward and expand on it the next time he mows. He still has a lot to learn before he will become competent in this job, but he has enough knowledge to give him the confidence to learn more. In addition, he had enough knowledge and a general concept to be courageous and confident, that he could do it the first time.
Do you have a general idea or misconceptions?
Later that day our one-year-old granddaughter Grace revealed more to me concerning this subject. She is crawling and pulling up with ease and understands many concepts. So much so, that she is practically walking and standing up in the middle of the living room. I set her in our recliner, sat on the floor alongside her, and watched as she attempted to get down. As she tumbled to the floor, I caught her and at that moment it occurred to me that, she had a misconception. She had observed bigger people getting off a chair and her concept of getting down was general. Her concept of getting out of a chair was to keep your body forward and move to the edge of the seat. I revealed to her how to turn around to get down, and she easily got out of the chair. Grace already had enough concepts concerning this new task to accomplish it.
Grace knew how to get her feet to the floor because she had been pulling up to the chair. In other words, she was already familiar with having her body facing the chair. I helped Grace turn over; she lowered her feet to the floor and was standing. The program mentioned how between the ages of birth and three years of age, children develop concepts. Each general concept connects to another, and this is the learning path. How well we make the connections and understand each concept determines our overall understanding. If we have simply a general concept of many things, we need to put them all together to develop a clear understanding. The mind is amazing because it contains data that help us succeed! What do you know that can help you do anything you want to do once you put the pieces together?
What do you desire to accomplish?
Do you want to drive a truck? You already have what it takes to succeed in this area. Think of all the things you know concerning the big idea; steering, backing up, shifting, using windshield wipers, etc. The next time you think you cannot do something, or feel incompetent, try making a conceptual mind map. I am certain that you know a little about everything pertaining to what you want to accomplish. If you put concepts together, you will see that, you have a general concept. You could have more than a general concept, and it never occurred to you that you already know how to do it. If you think of everything, you understand you can become confident enough to proceed. As your concepts come together, you become competent. You Know More Than You Realize!