The way learning and living is complicated when we have trouble with organization

John is struggling with the problem that his old methods of approaching assignments are inadequate for the kind he gets in high school, and that there are ways – new to him – of doing things which are more efficient in dealing with the larger volume of information and greater complexity of analysis required of him now. His habit is to use the old methods and blame everyone else when they don’t work, while feeling worse and worse about himself. To some extent this is because he has identified being “smart” with not needing to have any help, or learn to use any new tools.
The awkwardness of learning a new way of doing something is threatening to him, and he cannot suppress the feeling of irritation and panic long enough to learn that he can do it. For an example, think about when you learned to drive a standard shift car, and hopped all over the parking lot feeling the jerk and stall, the ineptitude where you were used to control and smoothness. It takes a sense of humor to get through that, and you have to maintain that humor while everything you are going through tugs you toward frustration and anger.
You were glad when it was time to take a break, and get back to your regular life, in which things went better, as a rule. Now imagine hitting that kind of emotional speed bump many times a day! What kind of attitude might you develop?

Comments on: "The problem of being a novice" (3)

  1. I have a thought process very similar to that. I will know exactly what I need to do and then out of nowhere it disappears and I have to stand in place for several seconds as I try and remember what it is I was thinking about. It’s like a wall just appeared and I’m knocking away the wall brick by brick. eventually it is knocked down and I am back on track, but then after a little while another wall just falls down and lands in the way again.

    Maybe I think too fast and my brain shuts off? I don’t know. All I really do know is that it is hard to deal with when it comes to anything. Sitting in class, reading a book, even reading info to help me with this problem had me do it a little bit ago. It’s all too much.

    To answer the question, I think I do experience it, and I know it has negatively effected the relationships I have in my life by a lot.

  2. James, that is a great description! I was working with a student of mine yesterday on exactly this issue. He has an essay to write for a class, and the assignment is to react to something in the course. The trouble is that the question gives him insufficient focus, and he feels that wall come down, blotting out his attempts to get something written down. When he does get an idea and hangs on to it long enough to record it, his self-doubt cancels every idea he generates. The paper is late, the teacher thinks he is careless, his parents get a call, they are angry and he can’t tell them why he didn’t get it done. He hasn’t talked with the teacher for the same reason, and he doesn’t know what help to ask for. Medication does help him have fewer wall experiences during his day but he has years of feeling terrible about situations like this that now he begins to understand and build a new response set. The process is uneven, has good days and bad ones, but the forward motion is happening.

  3. This sounds very similar to my son who is 14. He is a freshman in high school in a math and science specialty center. He has always been an excellent student in gifted classes and is now complaining of “forgetting” things, studying for tests and blanking out when its time to answer the questions, difficulty analyzing information, and completing homework assignments. At home he is quick to anger, disrespectful, but can also be a great kid. He is very frustrated. Is there some testing that you can suggest? He has met with his teachers per their request and one is giving him a second chance to redo a reading project as she recognizes its not up to his potential. I would like to address this before it becomes more difficult and would like some direction if you have advice. Thank you

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