Thursday, January 24, 2013

Your Inner Deduct

Grossly stated, there are two types of people in this world: ones who learn through study and ones who learn through activity (grossly stated).

And, oh yeah, the former doesn't actually work.

Well, it kind of works. Being good at the former (which means you probably favor deductive reasoning) does work if you're someone who's concerned about doing well in school, finding approval, getting a good job and keeping it. So, if those things are important to you, you could say that deductive learning works.

However, in my experience (grossly speaking), deductively-oriented people (let's call them deducts) tend to know about more than they tend to just know. They're great resources for background, context and facts; however, they're not particularly good at creating, inventing or solving problems (grossly speaking).

On the other hand (grossly speaking), inducts tend to know without knowing about. An induct might completely understand how something works and be able to explain it; however, her explanation would lack proper terminology or supporting references. An induct might intimately understand and regularly apply concepts like imaginary number or tritone substitution and yet not know that those concepts have names. Grossly and metaphorically speaking, an induct will repeatedly reinvent the wheel because he didn't know that the wheel had already been invented.

So, grossly speaking, inducts know without knowing about; deducts know about without knowing.

Less grossly speaking, no one is a purely deductive nor inductive. There are inducts who regularly use google and read books. There are deducts who regularly put down the instructions and figure out how to put together the IKEA bookshelf. The mix varies from person to person, but there's a least a little induct or deduct inside each of us.

If you were to chart a population's tendency toward inductive versus deductive learning, you might expect to see bell-curve distribution with the people most unilaterally inclined (pure inducts and pure deducts) represented in the tails of the curve. However (this may seem counter-intuitive),  it's more likely that the center of the bell would be occupied by those with strong leanings toward one or the other form of learning and the tails would represent those whose inner induct and deduct had become friends. Further, I'll bet that the chart would change based on the age of the population, i.e., the older the population, the more strongly biased the learning method.

Forgetting for a moment whether or not my gross observations represent reality, a question would be: Why does this matter?

I don't know. It's just something that came to mind this morning as I thought about the participants in a meeting I attended yesterday. In my experience, the people who seem to be most effective at what they do are the ones whose inner deducts and inducts have become the best of friends. They're the ones who can casually yet deliberately shift back and forth between inductive and deductive learning. They're the creative scientists and the disciplined artists; they're the ones who achieve breakthroughs and solve the hardest problems.

So, grossly speaking, it'd really cool if everyone nursed, nurtured and developed her neglected induct or neglected deduct to the point where the neglected one was as strong or stronger than than the favored one.

Grossly speaking, that is.

Happy Thursday,

1 comment:

  1. feeT--

    Shortly after I read your post (which I dug, BTW), I received this other diggy article by Steve Bearman that, in some respects, was making a similar point in psychological space. It's about thinking versus embodying/feeling (AKA somatics) as different tools for organizing (and reorganizing) our experience and interior lives. He discusses the importance and the pitfalls of both, with integration being the optimal state. (Steve is a groovy and insightful guy. He has a fun video blog series, too, and a waycool training program called Interchange.) He's been helping me expand my toybox of approaches for working with people. Check it out if you're interested.

    Happy Sunday,


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