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a crash course on the intelligence of being organized


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Book 1-Growing Smarter
Part 1—The Organizing Dilemma
Are children really organized? Is their first perception that they are organized changed at an early age by the inevitable confrontation with their elementary school teacher’s adult world rules?
In this first part, we look at the setting in which organizational skills are first developed in preschool and elementary school children. The observation begins by presenting a conversation with Alex, an organized 4 1/2 year old. Contrasting this conversation with a fantasy story that discloses some of the risks, fears, and feelings of insecurity these children develop, the apparent nature of the “organizing dilemma” is exposed. Taking a short trip in a time machine, moving from preschool into 6th grade elementary school, allows us to take a look at the nature of the dilemma perceived by each child as they make their way into the adult world. The organizing task faced by these children is contrasted with the deluge of a hundred year storm in the interest of raising the emotional stakes and questioning whether the child is really prepared for the challenges they will face. This comparison allows us to recast the “organizing dilemma” in it’s true light.

Part 2- What To Do
Like anything worth doing, the doing is the fun part. Yet, like anything worth doing, the doing is the hard part. The ?doing? part here involves more than merely addressing the apparent dilemma. The hard part is providing a solution to the underlying dilemma. Getting children to become self-organizing requires the development of a tool to assist the child to solve the problem for themself. The proposed solution, Workcenter Organizer, is introduced in three steps.
In the first step, the use of a tool kit as a “transitional system” is presented. Often, the first tool used to teach problem solving in any difficult application is some form of a “trainer”. The use of “teaching assistants” is explored. The need they fill is explained and the novel, unique form most tools take is pointed out. This prepares us for the next two steps.
In the second step, a frame of reference is established for the elementary school document handling application. The application is explained in detail using the 6 C’s, so that everyone has a common understanding of the problem solving environment. The application is characterized by identifying the relevant objects that are handled, their properties, and the requirements for handling them correctly. Work flow in the typical classroom is explained in terms of the general behavior of ?one skilled in the art?. This behavior is the problem solving skill that is needed.
In the third step, the tool kit is presented. Based on the 6 C’s characterization of document handling, the design goals for a tool kit that encourages and supports these desired skills are reviewed.Then the tool kit is presented as a solution to both dilemmas. We show how the Workcenter Organizer is structured and how this structure supports the methods that the child will need to use in order to get organized and stay organized. The features of the tool kit are mapped into the application so that the benefits of the tool kit can be clearly shown.

Part 3—Real School
In this section, we turn our attention to real applications of the Workcenter Organizer. The specific experience at Fay School, Southboro Ma. is discussed by providing a case study of what Fay School has done. An example of how the workcenter is used in a typical subject, Science, is then covered, showing how different parts of the system come into play. Excerpts from the headmaster at Fay School, from teachers, from parents, and from students using the system provide additional insight into the true benefits and value of the workcenter tool kit for document organizing.

Part 4—Operational Considerations
The goal of this part is to review implementation issues. It is my hope that by doing this, I can provide a more complete picture that goes the extra mile in transferring important skills and insights about this technology. If you decide to use this approach, points presented in this section will enable you to get an early success.
First, practical day to day considerations in beginning a program that employs the new Workcenter Organizer tools for document organizing in the classroom are covered. Here, we discuss existing methods and how to integrate the work center approach into the class room.
With what we now know, we are on the way to getting started. At this point, the role of the mentor, teacher, and student is discussed and how they play into the process of employing the system. Mentoring styles and mentoring goals are looked at through two whimsical stories in what we might call a ?mentor rich? environment. Imprinting is shown to be a very powerful and effective way in which Workcenter Organizer fulfills its prophecy. With imprinting, it is explained how simple peer level interaction is the way mentoring occurs.

Book 2-The Intelligence of Being Organized

Part 1—Organizing Intelligence
Since we can’t just ask ourselves how our minds work to get us organized, we will have to try a different approach. I start with a simple working definition of intelligence. The issue of defining organizing intelligence is posed and discussion about ways to develop and to measure this kind of intelligence are presented.

Part 2-Uncovering the Properties of Organizing Intelligence
To uncover the properties of organizing intelligence, I present some new ideas and employ some thinking tools to look into this aspect of mind function. The process of inventing new tools, using them, learning our way out of them, and analyzing them is discussed with an eye toward understanding ourselves better. We then look at some of the components of intelligent behavior that occur when we are “organizing”. Building on the discovery of these components of mind function, the “ mind machinery” underlying the use of these kinds of “intelligence components” is discussed. This allows us to draw some conclusions about “organizing intelligence” and intelligence in general.

Part 3—It’s Intelligent to be Organized
Without question, it’s smart to be organized. In this part, some of the broader considerations involved with developing better organizing skills are discussed. The future is truly bright when it comes to the idea that more people are going to get smarter more quickly than ever before. The hope is that by raising some additional questions, the methods and practices we employ in the process of smartening up will be more evenly balanced and carefully planned. The question of whether or not we can make the great achievements ahead, together, on a level playing field for all is raised.

Part 4- Where Do We Go From Here?
In this part, questions about how to best integrate these ideas into our practices of teaching are discussed. This part closes with the author’s thoughts about the mission and its goals.


Author’s perspective on the book and its goals

This is a book that tries to depict the multiple strengths that a mind brings to bear in the area of intellectual activity that we have come to call organizing. Growing Smarter starts out as a book about children. The book takes on the challenge of discussing their nature, their experiences, and the things we can discover about what makes them tick as organizers. The purpose is to establish a collective consciousness about this application and to stimulate each of us to more effectively use this application to nurture the mind of the young child. Although I start this quest with children, I do this in the belief that most of the ideas advanced here are applicable to people of all ages and can be used to help anyone develop better organizing skills.

Somehow we manage to develop a ?mental map? of the space we work or play in and this leads us to being ?organized.? The progression is predictable. It begins with the direct physical experience of encountering objects in our environment. This is followed instantly by the discovery of underlying properties of these things, how they behave, and how they interact. Whether it’s a child playing with blocks, an emerging adolescent engaged in Pokémon, or a logistics executive sorting out supply chains, similar principles apply. I thought about the use of the word ?organizing.? Obviously, we organize in every aspect of what we do. So the word has use but, in effect, conveys no specific meaning, no knowledge. We use it as a broad label to get a sense of closure on a set of complex tasks we perform in many different walks of life. I became frustrated with the limitations of using this word to describe such diverse behavior.

As I pondered the fact that the level of complexity of the environment in which we ?organize? naturally increases as we get older, I found myself going over this label and seeing it as a barrier to our developing a better understanding of mind, especially children’s minds. Simply labeling complex things and then passing over them is the way many humans deal with hard or difficult-to-explain phenomenon. ?Organizing? has fallen prey to this self-defeating strategy for coping. This motivated me to dig deeper into this ?domain? and to share a more analytical point of view about the processes of organizing, all in the hope of shedding new light on the subject. This book is my first effort to articulate some of my findings.

It is my hope that by this effort, I can further stimulate and encourage others to use the application of organizing as the basis for studying child development in new ways. I hope this effort results in a common understanding of the stages of “organizational development”. If we can show how identifiable types of organizational skills depict differences in brain development, this might lead to new ways to stimulate and teach children how to learn.

It is my hope that through this book I can encourage further exploration of organizing as an instructable discipline, one that is not necessarily curriculum based. The goal is to make this discipline “self taught”, where new “self-discovery” tools are used by each child. I also hope that by allowing each child to find the “mind machinery” that permits the assimilation and enculturation of information about our world in the process we label broadly as “organizing”, we can set more children confidently on their way, earlier in their life.

A further goal of this book is to make us all better at mentoring in the application of organizing. Knowing more about the process of organizing can help us become better at observing young children as they mature. As we become more skillful mentors, we will be better able to help children become self-improvers in organizing. This just might result, by “osmosis,” in their becoming self-improvers in learning how to learn.

Another purpose of this book is to provide a perspective on product innovation in this important application. The tools we have developed are woven by example into the book in the interest of offering insight into how innovative tools can be developed and how they can be used to change behavior. I hope our dedication to tool building in this area is received in the spirit it is intended and that it will lead to further innovation in traditional stationery products. I trust this will result in a more well defined role for tools such as this and an even stronger footing for these kinds of products in an ever changing high tech electronic world.

Overview & book synopsis
OVERVIEW-This book is organized into two parts.
Book 1

is a practical guide to organizing children at school. This book leads us from the day of ?the dilemma?, the moment that the student is found to be disorganized, through a solution that comprehends the reasons why disorganization occurs in the first place. This book features practical tools that enable the child to get themselves organized. It explains what the tools are and shows how these tools are being used in real, nuts and bolts, school examples. Lessons learned are highlighted in the interest of showing others a more effective way to proceed on the path to developing better organizing skills in children.

Book 2

explains why the tools presented in Book 1 work. Using the tool kit of Book 1 as a prototype tool with which we can think and talk about organizing, Book 2 takes on the challenge of explaining the various dimensions of the individual strength we call organizing intelligence. In our effort to describe, dismantle, and analyze this talent or skill, Book 2 delivers it’s message by taking us down the path of “thinking about how we think about organizing” and is designed to get us on a track going in the same direction, in the effort to study this special and unique kind of individual capability.
Appendices A & B provide more details about the tools that support the intelligence model presented in Book 2. The Workcenter Organizer is explained in further detail and additional product options are discussed.

By delivering the book in two parts, it reasonable to read the book in two stages.
In the first reading, the interested party can work through Book 1 and assess whether the barriers to getting our kids organized are surmountable and whether the valuable tools, now available, can really stimulate effective organizing behavior. The reader is provided with the grounding needed to explore the tools and make a decision about whether the tools do what they are intended to.
In the next stage, the reader can dig into Book 2 and hone their own understanding of the process and intelligence of organizing. In this stage, the reader can use Book 2 as a guide to understanding the underlying forces at work and develop their own theories of the intelligence associated with organizing.
Appendices A & B are intended for the reader that wants to go into further detail with the specific organizing products.


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