Why do I see the world the way I do. Why do not all people ‘see’ things the way I do… It took me a while to understand that; the learning style in the educational system where different from what I needed, it didn’t mean I wasn’t as smart as others, that doodling and using big arrows to connect one thing to another in my notes wasn’t a ‘bad’ thing as my teacher used to say, that my way of simplifying and connecting everything I knew and came across was something my brain needed to do. 

I am a visual spatial thinker and my brain works ina different way. Nicely put by giftedservices.com.au;

Spatial and sequential thinking are two different mental organisations that affect the way people view the world. Sequential thinking is step by step linear thinking over time, while spatial thinking is an holistic system where all knowledge is interconnected in space. Auditory thinking is associated with sequential thinking and visual-spatial thinking is associated with spatial thinking.

The sequential system involves analysis, progression from simple to complex, organisation of information and linear deductive reasoning. It is influenced by hearing and language and an awareness of time. In contrast, spatial thinking involves synthesis, an intuitive grasp of complex systems, (often missing the steps) simultaneous processing of concepts, inductive reasoning (from the whole to the parts), use of imagination and generation of ideas by combining existing facts in new ways (creative thinking). It is influenced by visualisation and images and an awareness of space.

Visual-spatial thinking is the hallmark of creativity and visual spatial learners usually gravitate to the creative professions eg. art, design, architecture, computer programming, graphics, animation, physics. However, this style of learning may not be understood in an educational environment which favours logical thinking and having the right answer.

Traditional teaching techniques tend to be designed for auditory sequential learners. Concepts are introduced in a step-by-step fashion, practiced with drill and repetition, assessed under timed conditions, and then reviewed. This process is ideal for sequential learners whose learning progresses in a step-by-step manner from easy to difficult material. For visual spatial learners, concepts are rapidly understood when they are presented within a context and related to other concepts. Once spatial learners create a mental picture of a concept and see how the information fits with what they already know, their learning is permanent. Repetition is completely unnecessary and irrelevant to their learning style. Visual thinkers and learners can literally see pictures in their heads while auditory thinkers and learners hear streams of words.


While drawing in the businessworld is still mostly looked upon as ‘not serious’ ans we still tend to polish things we do not fully grasp with big beautiful words we do not fully grasp either. I have been using drawings and visual thinking in my work and for my clients without describing it as such for over a decade now. It wasn’t until the idea of drawing helping you solve problems became more accepted with Dan Roam’s ‘The back of the napkin’ and the need for more overview in an ever growing see of digital data that I actually began starting to call it visual thinking.

Visual thinking is something that everybody can do to help spark the right brain and see things more clear. You do not need to have the ability to draw or be a visual spatial thinker to use visual thinking in your business or everyday problem solving, it requires some basic icons an the ability to see what is connected to what.  It helps you ‘see’ what is in front of you. It is in fact a very useful ‘language’ . Being a visual spatial thinker means that your brain is actually wired to learn by means of images and, more important, connections. I keep seeing connections arrows an things placed  in the bigger perspective all day, if I don’t I probably will not remember. So I usually ask the most unlikely questions, either to complete the picture as a whole or to see connections that I need to place what I see. This gives me the ability to see the bigger picture, the overview, the process, the rough lines. It gives me the ability to easily simplify and make complex things comprehensive.

By acknowleding how my brain works I can use this strenght to help other see the overview, the perspective, how things relate. By using visual thinking as my language of choice, I can be the interpreter between people that do not speak eachothers language. ( people that come from different backgrounds, have a different learning style or use different words associated with their branche or trade ‘speak’ different languages and often do not understand eachother completely) by creating a common ground. Visual thinking creates an overview that allows people to ‘see’ and grasp completely a problem or flow or process.

It feels good to be able to share my knowledge of innovation, new media and tech through this medium and to know that my ability is appreciated by many. This makes the fact that the educational system that makes our young children into the smart people we need for further innovation is still based only and entirely on the sequential learner and on language writing and math all the more unbelievable . Leaving smart gifted learners with different learning styles to think they must be ‘dumb’ and fall out of the system. But that is a whole different discussion…

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