pattern recognition

I find myself repeating myself.

As I wrote yesterday’s post, I found myself repeating myself.  In other words, ideas or phrases kept re-emerging, floating to the surface of my attention.  For example, the gaps I mean–to echo Robert Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall.”  The idea of gaps cycled back through my attention, and I enjoyed its return because that gave me momentum.  The momentum was fueled by the fun surprise of the re-emergence; I did not plan so much as discover it.  A bit like turning over soil and discovering worms wriggling about.  Once the idea of gaps returned for the first time, I began seeing it as a recurring theme that I could intentionally nurture.  A structure of sorts emerged, or a motif.  I could then identify and develop different kinds of gaps.  Sometimes I impose structures beforehand, but at times like this, the frameworks emerge more organically.  In these vacation reflections, I can play around with this organic material.

So what about pattern recognition?  This is a specific skill within the broader ability called problem-solving.  Teachers need to help students develop this specific skill, and literature study provides a tool for this training.  So does reflective writing.  One benefit of my playing around with this organic material–there I go repeating myself–is that I can practice pattern-recognition.  In this particular case, I have seen a concept repeated.  The start of a pattern happened unintentionally, for the most part; I then continued the pattern on purpose.

link to previous post

Students benefit from being able to “listen” to the sequence of their own ideas.  Reflective writing can provide practice at “hearing” recurring concepts in their mind.  Those patterns, I have found, serve as productive launching pads for their individual writing.  Their voices are more likely to emerge in writing that builds from patterns in their own minds.

final comments

I enjoyed seeing the idea of gaps recur.  This recognition had the ring of revelation.  Maybe not to the scale of Joyce’s epiphany, but it had a spark of joyful learning nonetheless, and that’s my main reason for sharing it.  Many writers no doubt have already firmly learned this feeling of pattern recognition emerging from their composing, but–to paraphrase Neruda’s “Ars Poetica I”– I am learning this by working with my own hands, which is the kind of learning I hope for students.

Yesterday, I hung some dill branches in the shed to dry.  Later, we can use the dried seeds to flavor dinner dishes or to plant new seedlings.  In either case, the dill work reminds me of an idea for my youtube series, growing writers.  That series explores connections between gardening and writing.  In the case of dill and yesterday’s post, I have harvested the idea of gaps  for future use.  Since the seeds are drying, I can use them any time I want–to flavor a meal or grow more plants.

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Filed under challenge, creative solutions, discovery, expression, joy, reasons for writing

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