Many famous people known for creativity and imagination struggled with words and letters. The Einsteins, Edisons, Schwabs and Lenos of the world survived their struggles and succeeded because of their way of thinking.
Current research gives some clues: Dr. Linda Kreger-Silverman developed the concept of the visual spatial learner to define students who think in images. Brain scans show dyslexics read better with alternate strategies since information flows along different pathways in the brain, according to Rumsey and Horwitz of the National Institute of Mental Health.
Word thinkers, also known as auditory sequential thinkers, can be described as step-by-step, requiring mastery of one area before progressing to a higher level. Consequently, these superior analytic skills easily make sense of words and the letters they are made of –thus reading, writing and spelling come naturally to those learners. Picture thinkers, also known as visual-spatial thinkers, are more self-directed exploratory and look at new concepts from multiple angles, making sudden intuitive leaps. This creativity and imagination natural to picture-thinking turns on at will. When this talent applies to a letter or word, a word can different than how it looks on the page and writing or spelling may come out differently than expected. This state is called ‘disorientation’.
The disorientation happens so naturally that we are unaware that what our brain sees and hears is not what has been written or said. Most of us have disoriented when things do not make sense to us. Disorientation can be as simple as the feeling that our car is moving when it’s not or being so absorbed in a movie that we lose sense of where we are. Since the brain disorients as a result of a person being really good at creative thinking, the creative thinker can turn their disorientation on and off to fit the situation.
By simply turning off the feeling of imagination and creativity, the picture thinker can be certain their brain accurately receives how something looks or sounds when working with letters and words. Once certain of what is seen, the picture-thinker can rely on the order and sequence not naturally apparent to them and achieve better results with reading, writing and spelling.
Looking through the lens of word and picture- thinking can explain types of smartness and struggles with sequential tasks like reading, writing and spelling. As author Tom West writes his popular book on dyslexic learners “Seeing What Others Cannot See”, our world needs both types of intelligence. Respect and use of both word and picture-thinking gives success with word-based tasks and brings students to the computer-based, visually-oriented careers awaiting them, all part of school success.