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Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions

de Temple Grandin

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1994136,042 (3.5)4
"A quarter of a century after her first book, Thinking in Pictures, forever changed how the world understood autism, Temple Grandin-the "anthropologist from Mars," as Oliver Sacks dubbed her-transforms our understanding of the different ways our brains are wired. Visual thinkers constitute a far greater proportion of the population than previously understood, she reveals, and a more varied one, from the purest "object visualizers" like Grandin herself, with their intuitive knack for engineering and problem-solving, to "visual spatials"-the abstract, mathematical thinkers who excel in pattern recognition and systemic thinking. With her genius for demystifying science, Grandin draws on cutting-edge research to take us inside visual thinking and its intuitive affinities for design, innovation, and problem-solving. She also makes us aware of how a world geared to the highly verbal screens out visual thinkers from an early age. Rather than continuing to waste their singular gifts, driving a collective loss in productivity and competitiveness, Grandin proposes new approaches to educating, parenting, employing, and collaborating with visual thinkers. In a highly competitive world, this important book helps us to see, we need every mind on board"--… (mais)
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Certainly visual thinkers need support in their education and later in working life to the same extent that written and articulate verbal achievements are valued. However, Temple Grandin is neither academically-qualified or experienced in the research pertaining to the psychological and educational aspects she purports to write about as a scientist.

Grandin's book is misleading in an irrational series of suppositions seemingly based on personal experiences at school and reading journal articles. Simply listing the names of researchers, the institutions, and the study title with no informed overview is really unacceptable as a researched article.

An academic book should be based on sound science grounded in relevant research in fields such as neurodiversity and analytical educational psychology. Authors usually write such texts based on their personal expertise, published journal articles of both their own and those of their colleagues, rather than passing off unverified opinions without actually being part of that research community.

Obviously the author is entitled to write about her personal experiences, her work with animals, her personal experience with autism and how she feels about all these aspects. That type of narrative is very different to presentation in this book which could more accurately be an autobiography or perhaps, as mentioned by another reviewer, a memoir. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Jun 10, 2023 |
The premise of this book - that visual, non-word-based thinking needs greater appreciation in American society and education - is one that I fully support. However, the author lacks proper credibility to make this argument. She is a trained biological researcher of animals and a professor. She has no experience other than her own in the K-12 educational system. She is not an educational psychologist. She has read numerous research papers, but seemingly lacks a theoretical grid to understand them.

What she does have is her own experience as an autistic child who went on to achieve a PhD. That's quite a feat, yes, but that's the subject for a memoir, not a seemingly "objective" and "scientific" account. She does not work with students that she chooses to opine about.

Over and over again, she creates a false dichotomy by arguing that word-based thinking and visual thinking are two different things. She admits that these dwell in a spectrum, but then repeatedly places them in opposition to each other. In truth, good thinking involves both, not one or the other. We need to nurture both. There are real issues here ranging from policy to pedagogy, but they aren't presented clearly.

I complete about 98% of the books I choose to read. Due to its fundamental philosophical flaws, I am relegating this into the 2% of books I do not complete. There is little rational basis for her suppositions other than personal emotions and experience. Again, these should be rigorously analyzed... in a memoir, not in a seemingly scientific book outside of the author's academic field. ( )
1 vote scottjpearson | Mar 7, 2023 |
I really was impressed with the examples and discussions that the author brought forth in this book. I am a visual person and to help me understand situations I like to see a drawing or a picture. Given her topic, there were no graphics or drawings or pictures in her book. Even one listing the difference between a verbal or visual thinkers as a summary would have been helpful. The common naming of these 2 views was also so similar that I kept mixing them up. I appreciate her view and I know it is very valuable to include all types of thinking styles in a project team. ( )
  Katyefk | Dec 30, 2022 |
recommended by Bedlam Journal Jon Katz
  pollycallahan | Jul 1, 2023 |
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"A quarter of a century after her first book, Thinking in Pictures, forever changed how the world understood autism, Temple Grandin-the "anthropologist from Mars," as Oliver Sacks dubbed her-transforms our understanding of the different ways our brains are wired. Visual thinkers constitute a far greater proportion of the population than previously understood, she reveals, and a more varied one, from the purest "object visualizers" like Grandin herself, with their intuitive knack for engineering and problem-solving, to "visual spatials"-the abstract, mathematical thinkers who excel in pattern recognition and systemic thinking. With her genius for demystifying science, Grandin draws on cutting-edge research to take us inside visual thinking and its intuitive affinities for design, innovation, and problem-solving. She also makes us aware of how a world geared to the highly verbal screens out visual thinkers from an early age. Rather than continuing to waste their singular gifts, driving a collective loss in productivity and competitiveness, Grandin proposes new approaches to educating, parenting, employing, and collaborating with visual thinkers. In a highly competitive world, this important book helps us to see, we need every mind on board"--

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