There’s a book out there called The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, about someone who overcame her learning disabilities and went on to found a chain of schools to help others who suffer in the same way.
In the book, the author, Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, talks about how she grew up having a prodigious memory but was unable to understand things like cause and effect, metaphors and the relationship between things. For example, when shown a photograph of a spider’s web and a separate photo of a spider, people would usually establish the association immediately; many would also understand how the spider’s web, with its myriad connecting points, came to symbolise the wordwide web.
For Arrowsmith-Young and others like her, however, the photos would be viewed as separate photos and no association between the spider’s web and the internet would be established.
What struck me about this book was not the way the author managed to devise a series of exercises to help herself, and subsequently others, overcome these learning disabilities, which are attributed to the lack of neural connections within certain parts of the brain.
No, what struck me was the fact that we are all, to a greater or lesser degree, learning-disabled. How else to explain the disconnect that seems almost impossible to overcome?
Here’s a finite planet with limited resources. There are seven billion people on this finite planet using these resources so quickly that even supposedly renewable resources like water are being exhausted, and guess what: we want MORE people. Here’s yet another assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change affirming the man-made nature of global warming, and what are we doing? We are racing to extract the last fossil fuels left in the ground. Anyone who’s numerate would know what the consequence of exponential growth is, and guess what? We want to maintain economic growth.
Arrowsmith-Young’s students are eager to clear the fog in their heads and make the connections. We, alas, want to see off visible air pollution but not the fog in our heads.