Saturday, September 7, 2013

Literature - Mental Outlining



Song:  The Hobbit

Group:  The Piano Guys



Alex's favorite reading spot...the sofa.


As I am having Alex read the literary masterpiece...
"Musashi"...
provide a synopsis of his night's reading...
and then engage in a discussion of the events (on a nightly basis)...
I had noticed he was having more trouble than I thought 
he should have had with motives of the characters.

He was also losing track of the timeline of events...
and even with some major occurrences and their significance to the story.

Last night I had realized what the problem was
(this time...it was me).

 Alex is a very detail oriented and progressive thinker.

I am a global visual thinker.

I had been relating the understanding of the text...
to scenes in the movie of the mind.

What I hadn't realized as the major flaw in this method...
was that Alex doesn't think in this manner.

I also realized that what he is attempting is to emphasize the details...
while not having a frame work of the chronology of only the very basic events.

He was trying to think from specific to general.

He was essentially doing what he had mistakenly been doing
in his writing before I had taught him how to outline his work first.


And so...
a simple solution I should have thought of far sooner...
mental outlining of the night's reading.

From a VERY basic structure...
thinking in as general as possible at first...
using just key words to trigger memory of the events...
and then with the night's reading chronologically set in the mind...
and correctly categorized...
the details will naturally flow from that very general structure.


What I had done to illustrate my point
was to take a very well known fable...
and break it down as I wish him to do with his reading.

And so...
we began with...
The Three Little Pigs.


I set, as a fundamental concept as a way for thinking for everything in life...
general to specific (this gives proper context and perspective).

Then, by breaking down what is read into the main characters...
and basic chronology of major events.

1)  3 pigs and a wolf.

2)  3 pigs attempting to survive separate attacks on each...from the wolf.

3)  3 pig brothers...3 pig houses...
progressively stronger built houses...straw...wood...stone.
Progressively wiser pigs in each.
Wolf attacks from weakest and least wise pig 
(as evidenced by the house built by each)
 progressively upwards.

 First two attacks successful...
houses fall...pigs escape to next wiser pig's home.
Wolf unsuccessful at last house.
Wolf attempts entry through chimney...
last pig had set trap for wolf using fire and kettle.
  Pigs survive...wolf dies.


Those were the what.


Then the establishment of the why.


First pig...sought lazy fast way.

Second pig...thought it was good enough...didn't think enough.

Third pig...used his intelligence and efforts.


Author's central point:

Intelligence and forethought...
superior to brute strength and naked aggression.


Author's secondary point:

Efficiency and effectiveness in life through...
Deferred Gratification 



I had Alex practice using this story to get a grasp on the concept
of a basic event mental outline.

We then practiced on his night's reading of "Musashi".

However, as motives of others are somewhat difficult 
for many children in the Autistic Spectrum...
I re-emphasized some basic human nature concepts...
and the nature of literature.

I emphasized that great pieces of literature
are all about the human condition.

For the means of understanding of the human condition...
I had given him a basic concept:


1)  There are but two basic drives in sentient beings...

Pursuit of Pleasure

Aversion to Pain


They manifest themselves in many ways...
but the root causes are but two.


The Pursuit of Pleasure may be then broken into two major components
(in higher thought animals):

1)  Short term pleasures (hedonism)

2)  Long term pleasures (deferred gratification)



The Aversion to Pain also has two main components:

1)  Unacceptable (running away from it...no matter the necessity for it)

2)  Acceptable (taking it in exchange for a promise of pleasure...
whether for the short, or for the long term)




With this fundamental knowledge...
he may begin his outline of human behavior.

With an initial simple categorization of the character's motives
into one of these two...
he may then look at the supporting evidence provided in the story
to fill in the details.

With this knowledge...
he may then understand, and even predict...
actions of human behavior.


I then had Alex tell me how he would categorize
each of the main characters in "Musashi".

Alex then did surprisingly well in categorizing them correctly.

I then had Alex give me a synopsis of his night's reading from 
a very basic structure and work his way up.

He is learning quickly.

I think mental outlining will help Alex with his reading comprehension...
and with his ability to logically discuss literature... 
as much as constructing an outline had done with his essay writing.










2 comments:

  1. I like the way you broke it down and then provided a very simple example to illustrate your point. It was also important that you understood why your son was struggling. I'll have to keep this in mind as I work with my son.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Alex is still getting used to this method...however, he is doing much better with it. It is helping him arrange the story in his mind. I have high hopes :)

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