Monday, April 23, 2012

A Humorous Look At An Operational Flowchart


YouTube Video:  The Big Bang Theory - The Friendship Algorithm



The Big Bang Theory is one of my favorite shows.

For those who have not seen this great show...
the lead character (Sheldon) is a brilliant...
but socially inept young scientist.

He has been characterized as a stereotypical (not to be confused with typical)...
brilliant person with Asperger's Syndrome (commonly known as the nerd syndrome).

In this video...
Sheldon had constructed a flow chart to help him with a normally
intuitive function in most people.




Now...
while flow charts are a valuable means of describing events past...
a means of describing the reasons for things to come...
a way to organize and coordinate events...
need one be made for all events in life?

Of course not.

It is merely a visual representation of an organized thought pattern
in relation to a preconceived occurrence or incident.

My wife had used flow charts to help Alex organize his thoughts 
when he was still very young.

However...
to have to use a flow chart as an initial step before one can be functional...
would simply lead to disfunction in life...
as things not only often happen at unexpected times...
but in unexpected ways.

The usefulness of showing a flow chart to a child is in the establishment
of cause and effect, as well as chronology, in the child's mind...
so he may place his thoughts in perspective.

A flow chart is often used in the planning of complex operations...
as an initial stage for the achievement of an objective in the civilian or military sector.

It is a way of predicting and controlling outcomes through coordinated actions...
and of being able to adapt to variables through the use of preplanned contingencies.


In practical usage for the teaching of a more organized way of thinking
for a child (especially one on the Autistic Spectrum)...
a parent may wish to take a simple event and create a simple flow chart...
and walk the child through it.

You could then advance to having the child create his own...
and then have him solve a simple objective.

Once a child does this a few times...
he will have a great start to thinking in terms of goals and objectives first...
and then the details afterward.

By practicing the practical application in life...
through the use of directed questioning (Socratic Method)...
you will have him thinking through a situation in its entirety...
and with more practice...
he will be able to predict outcomes and to be able to plan for contingencies...
all automatically, on the fly, in his head.

It is at this point that it becomes internalized...
it becomes intuitive.

So...
what does all of this mean?

How exactly do you apply this without writing it down?

A simple and time honored method is simply playing a "what if?" game
several times each day with your child.

Simply pose a question to him...
point out an obvious flaw in the environment and have him pose a solution...
give him an objective to achieve and have him engineer a solution...etc...
have him justify the plan of action...
the ramifications of the planned actions...
the expected reactions...
the identification of possible objective modifying variables...
and the plan for contingencies to mitigate them.

My wife has been doing it for years through Alex's bedtime ritual.

Through her question and answer format of Alex's reading of his books...
and of her reading of passages of them to him and of her subsequent questioning 
of him on possible occurrences and outcomes by altering the scenarios 
and/or the altering of the timing of events...
she has been able to have Alex greatly improve his thought process.

I frequently incorporate examples from life, and the environment, to engage Alex
in mental exercises.

The methods I frequently use are explained in these two articles:



In these articles...
I give real life examples I often use with Alex.


So why explain this simple way in such a complex manner when I could
have merely given the examples?

I had to fully explain the thought process underlying what we do, so new parents
may use it as a checklist in designing their own exercises for their child.

---

Few things in my daily life frustrate me more
than obvious flaws in the structural design of roadways
(decreasing radius turns...blind spots in critical areas such as buildings
or vegetation too near a corner intersection...rendering it a blind intersection
(dangerous even with stop signs)...obvious safety hazards...
and especially the misplacement of road signs - you know the ones... 
the warning of a sudden mountain hairpin corner...
placed just at the entrance of the turn instead of much farther
up the road where one could safely decelerate BEFORE entering the turn...
or a country road turn off that is placed at the turn instead of farther up the road
(you know that the ones responsible had not taken into account the distance traveled in
a set period of time at the normally traveled speed vs. human reaction time)...
and of human behavior on the road that can be potentially hazardous to others...
that I notice while driving.

I end up giving an impromptu lesson to Alex by..
identifying the problem...
the potential dangers...
a solution that actually should have been thought of and implemented in the first place...
 without first placing a driver in a potentially hazardous situation.

 I also give the lesson with great gusto so Alex may not only be aware of these types 
of situations when he starts driving...but so he is aware of my thought process in arriving
at my conclusions...all to teach Alex some valuable lessons.

Well...
at least this is my stated reasoning to my wife.

OK...OK...

I go into a good 15 second tirade of cursing the road planners...
of the civil engineers...of the other drivers...etc...
and it makes me feel better
(yes...I am one of THOSE guys  :)

And yes...
I have reported some problems and the solutions necessary in the past.

Hmmm...come to think of it...
they have never seemed particularly interested in what I have had to say  :)




4 comments:

  1. Haha, your reasons for giving the road lessons to Alex with "great gusto" make sense to me. :)

    I am very intrigued with the idea of using flowcharts to help begin teaching a way to organize thoughts. My son is such a visual learner, I think something like this might help him grasp concepts that otherwise would be difficult for him. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My wife used flow charts to great effect with Alex. She then progressed to logic problems where he first constructed a diagram of it to help him solve it. We now simply ask him "What if?" questions. He has improved so much in the past few years.

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  2. Driving. It's one of the biggest problems in life. There are people who obviously don't have to drive. In addition, I sometimes find completely incomprehensible arrangements of the road (or the intersection) in Tokyo.

    By the way, I watched some episodes of "The Big Bang Theory." I especially like funny conversations between Sheldon and Penny. Sheldon is so funny. I like him (and Leonard Nimoy, too :D)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I do like one of the trends here lately in road planning...the roundabout. It is far more efficient than a 4 way stop. I can only imagine the headaches in Tokyo for drivers. In San Francisco...it is a nightmare to drive until you get to know the city.

    Yes, "The Big Bang Theory" is a tremendously funny and interesting show. The actor who plays Sheldon is very talented.

    ReplyDelete

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