Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Haven't I seen you somewhere before?"

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? It's the situation where you come across a person that you're almost certain that you've seen somewhere before but can't quite place where. Believe it or not, there's a deeper explanation for that scenario. You're aware of your long-term and short-term memory, yes? Well, there's a shorter-term memory called your sensory memory.

Sensory memory is designed to store bits of information in your brain for literally milliseconds at times. Are you familiar with that sensation you feel whenever you're walking through a crowd and someone catches your eye? That's your sensory memory firing off. Now, here's the interesting part: most of the time, your brain deliberately ignores a lot of the info that's stored there; however, there are times where that info can actually slip into your long-term memory without you even being aware of it being processed! In essence, some of the people that you've felt like you've met before are probably people that you've simply passed by at some point. Even more interesting still is the fact that these people can even show up in your dreams (it's usually as those people that you don't know, but you can clearly identify).

There are several types of tests for your sensory memory that you can try with a friend. Try this one: Create sets of several numbers. Have the first set with only a few digits, stopping at usually three or four. For the following sets, increase the numbers in the set by only one or two. When you get to the last set, make sure that it's at least 11 digits or more (try not to go too overboard with it; I promise that 11 will do the trick). See if they freak out when they get to the 11th digit. So, use this as an example:

  • 1, 5, 6, 8
  • 4, 2, 9, 7, 5, 6
  • 3, 5, 4, 2, 1, 0, 9, 4, 3
  • 8, 7, 9, 1, 6, 3, 0, 7, 8, 4, 1, 6
See, your sensory information is only designed to hold about 12 items at one time. You're actually being bombarded with about 11,000,000,000 items per second, but your brain is only going to store the information that's need for some later use. There are also different types of sensory memory that's associated with different senses, but I'm not going to get into that because this is only a blog post and my attention span can only stretch for so long. :D However, if you'd like more information about sensory memory, there's a Wikipedia page on the subject (Wikipedia: Sensory Memory) and there are several other websites available as well. The information I've placed on here is all stuff from my human development class. GO, LEARNING!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bye Bye, Bias.

What's the opposite of being controversial? It's called, being objective. Being objective turns out to be a key quality in order to actually provide a sound argument. What I mean is that it's the difference between being one of those people who say, "OH MY GOD THERE SHOULD BE PRAYER AND BIBLES IN SCHOOL BECAUSE GOD IS GOOD AND STUFF!!!" and those who say, "What actually are the benefits and the downsides to placing a religious aspect in an educational setting in today's multicultural society?" Before I go a little into it, here's something you might want to take a look at: PUAheldesk: Staying Objective

One of the main reasons why people stop being objective is because of emotional involvement. No, I'm not saying that you have to detach yourself from how you feel about the subject matter. I mean this in the sense that people sometimes get so caught up in how strongly they feel about an issue that they fail to see the subject as a whole. There's actually a psychological term for this sort of phenomenon: cognitive inflexibility. Have you ever met someone that refused to listen to your side of the argument? (Even if they're clearly wrong?!) 

That's what I'm getting at. You don't want to be that person. Remaining objective is how you become a reasonable and open-minded individual. More importantly, if you have a point that you wish to defend, this is how you can present that argument without having people write you off as a stubborn ass after speaking for 22 seconds. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Writing Focus: "You sure use some stuffy language, bleh..."

Here's something that I don't think that a lot of people legitimately have a problem with, but it's something I personally address all of the time: getting lost in big words. People like accreditation, yes? The problem comes when you're fumbling through a thesaurus trying to find the largest, four-syllable synonym you come across just so that you can use it in a sentence. See, the problem isn't in the word usage as much as it's probably in the voice.

Ways to combat this:

Elaborate words, incidentally, are not a prerequisite for a labyrinthine, yet, unequivocal piece of writing. You just need to get to the point, yo. I'm personally a fan of people who use the language rather strategically--flowery enough to provide accreditation, yet, simple enough for me to NOT think that this just another haughty person who's trying to impress me with big words. Just say what you're trying to say; you don't need a mess of four-syllable nonsense. 

Next, try writing in active voice instead. You'd be surprised with how much your writing will change when you switch from writing in passive voice! Here's a nifty site with some easy-to-follow tips with how to switch to active voice and what it means. Active Voice Tips

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Classroom Challenge: Group Work

Now, HERE'S something that we all have to face at some point or another--group work. I'm going to be incredibly frank about this: I do not prefer group work at all. I'm a lone wolf in this type of situation. Yet, that sort of viewpoint wouldn't help me in an actual group setting. Luckily enough, you can actually learn a lot from working with others on a project.

One of the first aspects about group work that you can pick up on is how you actually fit in a group setting. You have the leader, the mediator, the work horse, and the subordinate, to name a few. You may actually find yourself under several roles in a group, depending on the project.

  • THE LEADER: The person that steps up and takes charge of the situation. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're bossy, but it does denote a sense of dominance.  
  • THE MEDIATOR: This person stands as the personification of conflict resolution. Whatever goes on in the group, this person knows how to ensure that everyone sees eye-to-eye. 
  • THE WORK HORSE: This is the person who doesn't mind the load. They may not always have an idea to contribute, but if you give them a task, consider it done.
  • THE SUBORDINATE: Not quite a leader, not quite a mediator, doesn't really want to handle all of the work, but they're still just as important. Whenever you need help with an idea or simply just a second opinion, they're sitting right there in the group (probably texting). 
As it turns out, I started out being more of a work horse. Yet, as the years have passed, I've now found myself being more of a leader-type. It's all a part of the role of being adaptable, really. If the group needs a leader, then I have no problem with stepping up (seeing as though I tend to be able to settle on a decision faster that some); however, if there is already a leader-type individual present, I tend to step down to the work-horse role. Either way, even though I do not prefer group work, I just want to ensure that we all come out with as quality of a product as possible.