ANOTHER RITE: A NEW MIND SET

When should a ritual be changed? Surely, when it doesn't achieve its desired purpose. Yet ritual is seldom changed evidencing intellectual rigidity and rigidity of method - the greatest barriers to solving intractable problems. Trying other or different way demands using a different or new mind-set., thereby establishing new rituals. But trying new ways often invites castigation, the charge of acting unprofessionally or being unscientific.

Innovators must then confront the Catch 22: how do we convince reasonable sceptics that the new way will achieve the hoped for result if we can't get the results until we employ the new mind-set? To paraphrase Marc Gold we'll never know whether the new mind-set works  until we try another way. A first step:  what, if instead of sanctifying 'individuality' we regard every personal and interpersonal problem as:

like every other problem at least in some respect,
like some other problems in another respect
and only then like no other problem?

This radically different progressive problem shifting mind-set (required to pose questions and probems this way) entails attending to apparently trivial detail, such that we can:

- check for a possible mis-match between the writing and the adept hand,
- inform parents, professionals, academics and the media about writing with the non-adept hand,
- stop children / adults developing avoidable intractable problems,
- present Pepper's world-view work and Karl Popper's interpretation-laden view of objective facts,
- define common-sense as did Descartes and the Ancient Greeks,
- emulate Dr Sattler's work with left handers and converted left handers.

The critical feature of this radical mind-set involves accepting that problems lie-within-yet-to-be-revealed-problems, that tasks are multi-faceted and lie -within-other tasks; that purposes lie-within-other purposes and that puzzles-lie-within-other-puzzles. This means :

Handling the hegemony of the right

To repeat, one person's way of doing it right may be someone else's way of doing it wrong or left! At the heart of the 'Are you doing it right?'issue are the four overlapping interpretations of the sound "right": right, write, wright and rite. Which of the following 'rights' then, is the correct tool for the task?

  • right-----opposite of left
  • wright---indicating craftsmanship as in: arkwright ... kenwright ... playwright, and of course Mr Wright
  • rite--------as in ritual
  • write -----with a pen in the hand 'thinking' on paper- and its variants

Is there a common root to these overlapping meanings and what about 'right' being synonymous with 'good', 'proper' and 'correct'? From a child development perspective this presents a confusing meta-problem which can only be debugged through action. Labelled 'the hegemony of the right', its origin can be traced back at least as far as the Ancient Egyptians (via the Ancient Romans and Ancient Greeks). The linkage between 'right' in its geographical and its mental sense is found in the Ancient Egyptians belief that the ever-lasting good life was on the west bank of the Nile; that is on the right side when facing south towards the source of the life-sustaining Nile. It is but a short step to labelling the hand pointing to the 'good side' as the 'right' side and then adopting this hand-land link as a shorthand for an ego / geocentric world-view about human entitlements.

For native English speakers the hegemon /right/ pervades everything they hear, see, think feel and do; and so acts as a transparent tool. This has many consequences. First it makes it difficult if not impossible for non-native English speakers to inhabit the same common-ground when translating the utterance /right/. Inevitably there will be loss of nuanced meaning. Clearly the sense of selfhood amongst Anglo-Saxon speakers is shaped by the hegemon of the /right/. For this simple reason, left handers face a core difficulty. Are they writing right when writing with their left hand? We're implicitly working in a progressive-problem-shifting manner when asking which is the correct 'right'?

Handedness: adept, converted or latent?

Here, when we talk about handling tasks, we mean this literally. Hence, the need to note what the hands are doing and how are they doing whatever they are doing when engaged in any activity. It is here that the functional difference between adept and non-adept hand becomes important. Why? Well because of the structural link between the problem-solving brain (mind) and body (hand). In effect rejectig the use of the labels strong / weak; clumsy-cackhanded / good, sinister / dextrous.

  • Adept or wright hand is the hand which is able to execute complex manipulations with seemingly effortless ease. Using the non-adept hand as though it were the adept one is defined as latent or converted handedness. In the context of literacy this condition manifests itself when the writing-hand is unable to competently re-present the confident mind's-eye word or image on the page. As a core mind-body condition it is a co-factor in dyslexia and dyspraxia and with a variety of other conditions apparently unrelated to reading-writing.
  • Latent hand signifies unwittingly using the non-adept hand as though it were the adept hand. The condition appears to be hidden from the self and from others.
  • Converted hand signifies knowing that one has been induced or coerced into using the non-adept hand as if it were the adept hand some time in the past.

Names are not explanations

While there is much argument over which label is the right label for particular conditions there is no disputing the fact that some children and adults experience great difficulty in handling themselves and the worlds they find themselves in.  Typical difficulties involve learning to read/ write fluently, to handle mathematical tasks competently and confidently, and to execute hand-eye co-ordination tasks expertly and be at ease under conditions of stress.

The only dispute is whether such difficulties represent body-mind conditions indicative of differences in genetics, epigenetics or learning history. The 'naming' issue has been resolved here in favour of focusing on actions and the thinking that accompanies it in the context of th hegemony of the right. This leads to uncovering a possible body-mind condition labelled latent / converted handedness. Its non-diagnosis and non-management is widespread throughout the English speaking world. One consequence is that unnecessarily burdensome emotional and financial costs are imposed on individuals, their families, industry, and the entire gamut of education, legal-judicial, penal and health-care systems: in short, on society as a whole.

This raises a systemic meta-puzzle: why do professionals who conduct personal, educational, medico-legal or legal evaluations fail to spot a possible mis-match between the writing and the adept hand when it is present?

Failure to eliminate the mis-match between the adept and the writing hand as a co-factor in any personal problem goes a long way to explaining why there is such limited success in remedying poor self-efficacy and poor self-esteem, reducing stress, remedying many special education needs conditions - such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, poor literacy, ADHD; and reducing recidivism rates.

Self-efficacy

Here we conflate self-identity and self-efficacy by defining both in terms of:

  • what we handle, literally and metaphorically and the seemingly effortless ease with which we do so,
  • who we interact with, how and whether to mutual benefit or not,
  • the words and labels we use and how we use them.

Self-efficacy is ultimately a function of our tool use - or being wright focussed. In general we overlook what hand-use tells us even though hand and brain work as-one. Mistakenly we tend to focus on what hands achieve, rather than watching how they perform. This oversight sets up the false dichotomy in which we regard people as good with either their brains or with their hands. Brains and hands have evolved co-extensively: the brain 'controlling ' the hand via feed-forward from the hand to the brain.

Ignoring the role of the hegemony of the /right/ in this context results in having to accept one of two 'non-/rights/' explanations for the origin and persistence of intractable difficulties. The more pessimistic holds that we are born fated to endure such difficulties. A less pessimistic view holds that we should frame difficulties as challenges or problems to be overcome or solved. A more optimistic approach holds that we should frame difficulties as puzzles, because puzzling compels us to attend as much to apparently insignificant details, which need to be assembled, as to the emerging and often changing bigger picture.

Common-sense as an issue

The issue with appealing to common-sense is that one person's common-sense is another's nonsense, this partly because common-sense has two meanings:

  • when everyone agrees with every one else
  • when what we see agrees with what wehear and thus feel: in other words, when the message to the brain, from the different senses, is the same

The 'common' meaning is 'when we all agree'. The 'different senses' definition assumes that brains don't intentionally try make life more difficult for their 'owners' than needs be.

It is the first definition that explains why appealing to common-sense so often leaves us locked into seemingly impossible-to-solve difficulties. The engendered problem is not so much lack of common-sense as lack of a common-ground, comon tools and agreement over the common-good.

The common meaning definition explains why the role of converted / latent handedness as a co-factor in a variety of presenting difficulties is ignored. It's caught in a Catch-22 which requires a cultural paradigm shift in how we talk about thinking about thinking: not as a disembodied 'cognitive' process, but as an embodied  (pen and paper 'hand') activity.

The rationale for confirming that the adept hand is indeed being used to write even when identifying and resolving non-literacy related intractable difficulties is simple:

in a literate world writing plays a key role in creating and structuring a sense of the self,
and hence self-efficacy and sense of self-worth.

The puzzle within expertise

The puzzle over the expertise of experts is why they so often disagree among themselves: in reporting findings and in telling us what to do and how to do it. This constitutes a potential meta-problem until it is acknowledged that, as with non-experts, experts too often hold different and therefore conflicting world-views.

 

When encountering intractable personal and inter-personal problems for which there are no obvious solutions, and where even trying to do the right thing, the right way, at the right time and in the right order seldom achieves the right result, is

Pepper and Sattler

Systemic factors lie beneath the surface of seemingly intractable personal, educational, medico-legal and legal disputes. These can be placed within the neglected work of Stephen Pepper (mind) and the ignored work of Barbara Sattler (body). Pepper provides a conceptual framework for mapping the world-views of those offering and those in need of help.The best account of world-view theorising to date is to be found in Stephen Pepper's book, World Hypotheses: A Study in Evidence. Sattler offers detailed case-studies on the direct and indirect consequences of being a converted left-hander. Her publications evidence the need for 'behaviour change agents' in the non-German speaking world to note both the writing and the adept hand of those with educational, occupational and well-being difficulties. She states the position succinctly: to paraphrase - writing with the wrong hand causes 'knots in the brain' with attendant educational, relationship, mental health, and behavioural consequences.

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