Thursday, September 08, 2005

Perspective Taking... Through Blogs?

We accidentally came across this Writers Write site while surfing with our kids for creative writing helps. The site has ideas about using the Internet when researching characters. Beside suggesting Psych sites (different temperaments) and Biography sites, it also mentioned respectfully visiting different discussion groups and lists (farmers, fire fighters, different political groups) to learn more about what these different people were interested in, how they talked, and what their experiences were. This type of activity is of course not only helpful writing, but also broadening our own exposure, and having the time to consider different perspectives and points-of-view at a more leisurely pace.

Careful and supervised explorations of this sort may be valuable for students when they are seeking to understand different points of opinion and controversy, and understand the context and perspectives that accompany these views. The blogosphere has certainly contributed a lot to this, because more ordinary people can have blogs, and its usually seen as a platform to speak ones' mind.

Check out the picture below which shows which shows the different pattern of activation in a visual spatial perspective taking task involving a virtual ball tossing game. The red areas were activated when playing the game from a first person perspective. The blue areas were activated when playing the game from a third person perspective. Pretty dramatic difference. Even just the visual spatial process of taking another perspective requires a great deal of activation of representational areas.

Keep in mind this sort of perspective taking is only the simplest kind - not considering who the person is, what their experience, value system, emotional feelings, or intentions are. It's not surprising that many of us even as adults find we have a lot to learn about perspective taking.

Any way, may this will be a helpful idea for one of you out there. Another thing this scan shows is why children with visual perceptual difficulties (happens with birth injury, prematurity, autism spectrum, other conditions) have such trouble with perspective taking. Look at the large blue area that's required.

For some of them, close captioning of movies or reading blogs is their breakthrough. It's no accident that people with visual perceptual difficulties may become engrossed in language - because a lot perspective taking can be gained (context, intention, assumptions, humor) from understanding the differences in language well.

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