Linear thinking LO22793

Steve Eskow (
Mon, 4 Oct 1999 10:18:55 -0600

Replying to LO22781 --


>The differentiation I make as an educator between linear and global

If there is a need for a dichotomy, a pairing of "linear" with its
opposite, wouldn't "nonlinear" seem more appropriate as a binary opposite
of "linear," while "global" is paired with, say, "local"?

>The linear thinker moves one mental step at a time down the path of
>logic, consuming and digesting each piece of information before moving to
>the next.

This seems to be describing the process of attempting to follow someone
else's "line" of thought. The "thinker" here seems to be confronted with
"information," and, as if it were food, is trying to "digest" each piece
presented before moving on to the next: as in eating one dish at a time,
rather than jumping from the soup to dessert and then to main course: the
eater who starts with soup, goes on to salad, then entree, then dessert is
a linear eater, right?

I am starting your message at the beginning, and trying to follow the
points in sequence, as you make them, rather than jumping to your bottom
line, then coming back to the beginning of your message, skipping to
another message, returning to yours, etc...does this mean I am a linear

>The global thinker (also known as branching logic) pursues multiple paths
>of information gathering and processing simultaneously, bringing all
>relevant parts together at the end.

What exactly is involved in "bringing all parts together"? Isn't it often
like the detective who is searching "multiple paths," always looking for
the "line" that connects the random bits into a coherent narrative?

If this is so, one possibility is that hypertextual thinking, channel
surfing, to much globalizing, doesn't help students learn to find the
"line," the "thread," the pattern that brings "all relevant parts together
at the end."

>Linear thinkers tend to be left brain dominant while global thinkers tend
>to be right brain dominant. Our educational systems have traditionally
>valued and encouraged left brain development and linear thinking patterns
>while dismissing right brain development and global thinking patterns...

Here is a problem in learning organization theory and practice: praxis, if
you will.

Note that very little is being written and published these days about
"brain geography," and that little is not coming out of the major research

Suppose, Vana, the theory that holds that different sectors of the brain
control different mental functions, and that the different sectors can be
trained by education has been discredited.

It has, Vana. See, for example, the research and writing of William

Despite this, the imagery of left-right brain continues in popular

Is this an example of resistance to change? Is left-brain right-brain
discourse so attractive, so useful as explanation and advocacy, that those
using it are reluctant to change?

Cheers, Vana.

Steve Eskow


Steve Eskow <>

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