Imagination is more important than knowledge.
– Albert Einstein
We were playing with outlining today.
Rather than peddle the same kind of linear thinking Mrs. Rupple taught me in 7th grade, I tried a different approach.
“What are some ways you’ve planned your writing that have been successful?”
And then they shared.
“Write these down,” said I, “You might need them when you get stuck.”
The old favorites such as Roman numerals and webs and bullet points were offered up.
They weren’t alone.
One student talked about coming up with a topic, journaling about it and then moving the pieces around until they made sense. Where she sensed weakness, she knew she needed to do research.
Another student picks a topic, starts researching and tags the useful articles in delicious. When tagging, he lists the important points he wants to reference in his paper as bullet points in the notes section of the tag. When it’s time to write, he calls up the tag and has all his notes listed.
Then there was Andre.
He didn’t know it, but Andre was the inspiration for today’s lesson.
Yesterday, as the students were preparing the information they’d uncovered from their research, Andre spoke up.
“Mr. Chase, yo, I don’t do outlining. That’s not how I think.”
“How do you plan your writing?”
“I see it in pictures.”
He explained it to the class today:
- Pick a topic. (effects of integration on minorities)
- Picture the topic. (historically black towns)
- Zoom in on the picture. (citizens of those towns of different classes interacting)
- Picture how things change with outside influences. (black citizens with wealth moved closer to white citizens of wealth and separated from their previous communities)
- Cut to the effects of the change. (citizens without wealth suffered because the community structure had been compromised)
And that is his process.
It works for him. More to the point, it’s how his brain works for him.
I could never have taught Andre this method.
More frightening, if I’d attempted to teach Andre outlining, my method would have worked against everything his brain was telling him.
“What about when you need to find outside sources to back up your arguments?” asked I.
Easy. He does an image search using the keywords from his topic. When he finds a picture that appears to fit the bill, he goes to the source page and reads the related information.
It’s not how my brain works.
It’s how Andre’s brain works.
It works well.
I’m so glad I asked.