Elizabeth Bailey en beBee in English, Writers, English Virtual Assistant • Love Typing Hace 4 d · 2 min de lectura · 1,5K

Do you learn and think in straight lines or in circles?

Do you learn and think in straight lines or in circles?

This is something I've thought about a lot lately.  How do we learn and think?

I learn in straight lines. I like to find a beginning and start there. If I'm learning a language I start with "Hello, my name is..." I think of learning like laying a model railway track - keep joining a new piece to the last.

This is how I've learnt everything all my life and how I thought everybody learnt. Connect one piece to the next, all in a straight line.

But some people seem to learn in circles. They don't need to know the basics. They can skirt around the outside of a subject picking up the odd piece of information and somehow, I don't know how, they seem to be able to remember all these odd unrelated pieces of information and when they've got enough of them just put them together with an amazing grasp of the subject. Quite often in school they got into trouble a lot for "not paying attention".

I find myself envying these people. 

The way I learn works well for me and is also how I teach but it does pose one problem. Remember that box we are all meant to think outside? Unless I have enough pieces to connect together I can get stuck there, on the floor, with my legs crossed hoping someone is going to send me a lifeline because I just don't have enough track to get out of there.

On the other hand my friend the circle learner - they're outside the box doing a little dance. They have a 100 ideas going in different directions and seem able to keep tabs on them all. To me these are the true entrepreneurs. I'm not saying they're perfect, they are usually very disorganised and lose stuff a lot. Keys have to be searched for several times a day. And they are entirely random.

 Me, I'm not like that, I might be sat in my box, but it's perfectly organised, everything in that box is in its place and colour coded and I can put my hand on most things at a moment's notice. I can't do random if I tried.

So which way is better? Neither in my opinion. We can learn from each other and work together. Over the years I have been friends with and worked with these people many times. They see dotting their 'i's and crossing their 't's as a waste of time, infact quite often their writing looks like a spider crawled in some ink and walked across the page, but we have always got on well. 

They've thrown me a lifeline when I've need to get outside my box

They've thrown me a lifeline when I've needed to get outside my box and I've kept things in order for them, handed the file as they've gone out to a meeting, organised their phones and laptops and found their keys for them - again.

These people have enriched my life. They have helped me think in a different way. They have also helped me realise that there is more to life than being efficient and that sometimes it's good to let in a little chaos.

So I ask my question again? Do you learn and think in straight lines or in circles?


Thank you for all your likes and shares. I really do appreciate them. Thank you as well to everyone who has followed me in my short time on beBee.

I'm a Virtual Assistant with a legal and property background with a passion for crochet and an interest in aeroplanes. 

Photograph courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Renée Cormier Hace 3 d · #20

#19 Like I said, details confuse me. I need things to be very uncluttered. Thanks for responding to my comments. There is a lot to be said for people who need more information and gain clarity by looking at details. We all have our place in the world.

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Elizabeth Bailey Hace 3 d · #19

#18 I'm working on that, but I do enjoy doing the 80% .

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Elizabeth Bailey Hace 3 d · #17

#15 Thank you for commenting @Renée Cormier Sounds like you are great person for someone to have in their corner. Do you focus on 20% that counts and ignore the 80% ?

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Elizabeth Bailey Hace 3 d · #16

#13 So nice to get to know you better @Susan Rooks Some of the best things happen spontaneously and for some reason, they give me so much more joy. Enjoy :-)

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Renée Cormier Hace 3 d · #15

Hmm. I might be somewhere in the middle. A little of both, maybe? I definitely like things to be as uncomplicated as possible and people who natter on endlessly without making a concise point get on my nerves. My spacial perception is terrible and too many details and steps confuse me. Having said that, I can be very resourceful, a great problem solver, independent thinker and very entrepreneurial. What's your opinion, @Graham Edwards? I think Graham learns in circles.

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Deb Helfrich Hace 3 d · #14

#13 Interesting that you brought up maps, @Susan Rooks, as I used the words globe and continent-shaped. I think circular learning is more about learning things spatially, in relationship, via representation. And linear directions are certainly part of the ease of recalling some of the most ridiculous things.

I have always had a great sense of direction, probably good since I traveled so much as a consultant, but I shun maps and the existence of GPS is outside my world right now. Even something like getting in an elevator and knowing which way to turn when I got to my floor. It floored me when colleagues would have to walk out and look in order to know which way to go.

I think I learn in 3-D. Back to spatial learning. I also love to pace while talking.

Finally, the newish work on embodied cognition is very self-evident to me, I think precisely because I don't learn in a straight line.

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Susan Rooks Hace 3 d · #13

Well, @Elizabeth Bailey, you've given us quite a question! Thank you!

I am pretty sure I think in circles; until the last few years no one would have ever called me organized. Straight lines were not for me! And although yes, I'm more organized . . . I am sure others might walk into my small place and wince. The one time straight line thinking works for me is with maps, especially trying to get to a place I've never been before. I don't much like getting anywhere late, so I like to go simply from here to there with a minimum of fuss.

Otherwise, I'm fine with being spontaneous and wandering around -- in my thinking and in my doing.

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