Saturday, January 02, 2010

Cracking the cognitive egg

Well it’s the 2nd day of 2010. Hard to believe that we are entering the 2nd decade of the 21st century. I well remember the angst with which we entered the year 2000 (Y2K) – maybe a distant memory for many of you but not for those of us with direct responsibility for computer systems and all the concerns regarding wide spread disasters due to the 2 digit dates and the change in century.

As an aside much of that was hype and much of it was real. What amazed me most was the fact the IT people who had in a sense created the problem with a failure to think ahead far enough about the consequences of choices in selecting 2 digit year formats responded with tenacity and ingenuity and resolved most of the real problems –

Unfortunately corporate boards listened to the auditors and with a lack of understanding of the real issues believed a lot of the hype and over-reacted. Most senior IT people went along and spent a lot more time and money than was really warranted by the level of risk to things like power systems and airplane controls.

It was a bit like what I heard on the radio2 days ago as we were leaving to come home the morning of New Year’s Eve. The announcer said “the best thing to do tonight if you need to drive even if you are stone cold sober, is to treat everyone else on the road as if they are drunken idiots. Nobody wanted to take the chance that the rest of the world hadn’t done the due diligence in dealing with their Y2K issues and so they spent a lot of time in contingency planning and actions “just in case” something went wrong “out there”.

Well back to my main point for today. Most people at this time of year are either doing (belated) year end reviews or plans for the New Year.

In the past I have done both – and they take a lot of time --with uncertain value because I like many often lose sight of the lessons learned from the past and the focus on the goals I set in my plans.

So rather than set myself up for public failure by exposing those flaws to the “reading public” (Thanks Noel for letting me know that at least 1 person is still watching for my posts) I’m going to post the following item that I came across in a Bible discussion group that I’m involved with.

This is part of a post by "Dan Smith" on Berean Spirit where he provides an excerpt from a long paper "How to Train the Aging Brain" by Barbara Strauch .

“Educators say that, for adults, one way to nudge neurons in the right direction is to challenge the very assumptions they have worked so hard to accumulate while young. With a brain already full of well-connected pathways, adult learners should “jiggle their synapses a bit” by confronting thoughts that are contrary to their own, says Dr. Taylor, who is 66.Teaching new facts should not be the focus of adult education, she says. Instead, continued brain development and a richer form of learning may require that you “bump up against people and ideas” that are different. In a history class, that might mean reading multiple viewpoints, and then prying open brain networks by reflecting on how what was learned has changed your view of the world.“There’s a place for information,” Dr. Taylor says. “We need to know stuff. But we need to move beyond that and challenge our perception of the world. If you always hang around with those you agree with and read things that agree with what you already know, you’re not going to wrestle with your established brain connections”Such stretching is exactly what scientists say best keeps a brain in tune: get out of the comfort zone to push and nourish your brain. Do anything from learning a foreign language to taking a different route to work.“As adults we have these well-trodden paths in our synapses” Dr. Taylor says. “We have to crack the cognitive egg and scramble it up. And if you learn something this way, when you think of it again you’ll have an overlay of complexity you didn’t have before and help your brain keep developing as well.”Jack Mezirow, a professor emeritus at Columbia Teachers College, has proposed that adults learn best if presented with what he calls a “disorienting dilemma” or something that “helps you critically reflect on the assumptions you’ve acquired.”

Barbara Strauch is The Times’s health editor; her book “The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain” will be published in April.

I was moved to post this here – not because it is a new idea to me. Actually, my son who is working on his Ph. D. in neuropsychology had told me something similar almost 2 years ago and the “new route to work” and other such things have often been preached as ways to break free of habitual patterns and as a source of creative thinking.

I mention it because I have been pursuing new ways of looking at things related to God and the Bible (even if it doesn’t change my beliefs or behaviors although sometimes it has) for several years now.

In 2009, I have become aware of a need to do a similar re-examination of how I operate in relationships. I have ingrained behaviors that limit (or even are destructive) in relationships and I would like to break those “habits”.

My question to my self for 2010 is “how can I ‘crack the cognitive egg and scramble it up’ so as to create positive changes in my relationship behaviors” (or is this even possible)?

Any ideas out there?

1 comment:

hummingbird said...

Clyde and I have just started a devotional book for this year that begins with the importance of being a disciple of Jesus. He makes a distinction between disciple and Christian - or at least our perception of what a Christian is. He had an interesting point - the word Christian is only found three (I think that was the number)times in the New Testament, the word disciple in the hundreds. My asumption is that if we could ever get this relationship right with the Master it would solve all of our problems, and will do that very thing by degrees as we become more and more aware of our flaws because we are focused on Him. There is a lot of hope in that for me. Love ya bunches. Wilma