When I was young, I enjoyed “Connect the Dots” pictures. When you connected the dots, which had a number or letter next to them, in correct numerical or alphabetical order, an image would appear. You could then color the image. “Connect the Dots” images continue to be used today as a learning tool.
“Connect the Dots” for young children generally are simple with part of the image already drawn. Having a portion of the image visible assists the child in seeing the connections that they needed to make. In contrast, “Connect the Dots” for older children are sometimes quite abstract. In this case, the picture only comes into focus as the dots are connected.
I am not sure who originally created “Connect the Dot” pictures. However, it appears the originator created them as a game to make learning fun. Yet, they are more representative of how humans think than the creator probably realized.
Human beings are constantly connecting the dots. One of the earliest connections that children likely make is that if they cry, someone will feed them or change their diaper. As children grow and develop more advanced thinking, the connections they create become more complex. By the time people reach adulthood, connecting the dots is so ingrained in their brains that they do it thousands, if not millions, of times per day.
An individual’s truths, beliefs, and perspectives develop over time through a series of connections and observations. In turn, all of these factors combine and recombine to create new connections, conclusions, and perspectives.
Conclusions and generalizations occur when connections are made a path of connections is followed repeatedly. When a connection occurs enough times, it becomes an unconscious automatic connection or path. On one hand, this is a great benefit. Without automatic connections, humans would be continually relearning information and reassessing situations. The ability to build upon prior connections and paths allows learning and achievement that would otherwise be impossible. On the other hand, it is these very connections and pathways that can lead to gross generalizations and invalid conclusions.
Unconscious connections and pathways are like deep ruts that were created when the wagon trains went over the Oregon Trail. Once a person’s thinking or a wagon’s wheels are in a rut, it is nearly impossible to adjust course. Information may only be a few steps away, but still be completely unattainable. It might as well be on the other side of the mountain because there is no way to venture over to it to check it out.
Reinforced pathways is the primary reason that people tend to become stuck in their ways as they age. Unless a person is continually looking at information from different perspectives, they will have difficulty trying a new path because the old paths are too strong. This is why it is so very important for people of all ages to continually learn new things and to challenge their own thinking.
A good indicator that it is time for a person to infuse themselves with new ideas is when they find themselves saying, “But, that’s the way it has always been done.” Likewise, it is time for a person to consider if the other has a point if they automatically reject any idea that doesn’t align with their beliefs, thoughts, or perspectives.
It is so important that people of all ages continually infuse new ideas into their thinking. Those ideas challenge previous ideas, beliefs, and perspectives, allowing people to make new creations by connecting the dots differently. The challenge is to keep changing the picture!