Monday, December 20, 2004

The Tortoise and the Hare

Yesterday in my Developmental Psychology class we learned about different types of intelligence. Apparently, there are 2 different kinds of thinkers - the Impulsives vs. the Reflectives. The Impulsive thinkers act first and think second, they go with their intuition and go quickly. The Reflective thinkers stop and mull over all considerations before answering a question or solving a problem. I'll give you one guess what kind of thinker I am.

Back in the days when I was taking exams in my native tongue, I was usually the first one finished. While the other students would still be diligently filling in their names, I was already handing in my exam to the proctor. My attitude was that a test should take no longer than 10 minutes. Either you know the information or you don't. Sitting there and waiting for information you don't know to fall from the sky like manna is a waste of time.

The thing is, though I was usually done first, that position was in no way indicative of my level in the class in terms of achievement. Although I knew the information cold, and thought I was "smarter" than the other students, I would still be pulling B's, (or C's) when I could have easily gotten all A's, simply by studying a bit more and taking my time on exams.

The bad thing about Impulsive thinkers, according to my professor, is that we sacrifice getting an answer right in favor of saving time. And at the end of the day, grades are handed out based on how many answers you got right, not who handed in their exam first. If there was some sort of bonus for the first person to hand in their exam, then maybe the Impulsive thinkers would have a point. But we don't.

My impulsive thinking is in no way limited to my exam-taking. I am impulsive about everything. When I decided to make aliyah, I did it in the blink of an eye. I didn't really think about it too much. The idea came to me one day, and 2 days later I had filled out the paperwork. 6 months later I was touching down at Ben Gurion Airport. As it happened, I got that "answer" right in the exam of life.

When I decided to go to law school, it was a similar sort of process. I perused an LSAT review book (because an ex-boyfriend was thinking of taking the LSATs), thought, "Hey this looks fun", took the LSAT without studying, got a decent enough score to get into law school and went. Standardized tests, of course, favor Impulsive thinkers, because there are usually serious time restrictions, and many times Reflective thinkers don't finish the exam and thus sacrifice potential points - answers they would have gotten right had they moved a bit more quickly. I have always done fantastic on standardized exams, and less than fantastic on regular ones. Law school, however, turned out to be a "wrong answer" in my life exam, and I'll bet if I had taken a bit more time in that decision I would have not gone.

Much like in the exams, the Impulsive thinker sacrifices the right decision sometimes in favor of the quick one. In the fable of the tortoise and the hare, I am the hare. Except at the end of the story, the tortoise is the one that wins. "Slow and steady wins the race", is what the tortoise says as he passes the hare by.

When it came to Nursing school, I mulled over my decision to even apply for months. I thought about, formulated a game plan, spoke to others, etc. I told almost no one of my plans to apply, until I had already been accepted and decided to go. My professor says that you can teach Impulsive thinkers to be a bit more Reflective (though not vice versa).

On Friday I took a major exam (in psychology) and for the first time in my life during an exam, I became a Reflective thinker. I mulled over each choice, deliberating why it was incorrect or correct. I was almost the last person to hand in the exam. Because I am a new immigrant, I have a time extension on the exam, and I actually used part of it. And you know what? Answers that I didn't know at the beginning of the exam, fell like manna from the sky by the end of the exam. Maybe the Reflectives have something going on.

Although I am very clearly a hare, B. is definitely the tortoise. I am a romantic, and B. is very much a pragmatist. I am Impulsive and B. is Reflective. We had our first real disagreement this weekend. Note how I do not say "fight", because we didn't fight, we simply had differing viewpoints which we presented to each other in a respectful, mature (okay, B. was more mature than me) manner.

Prior to our discussion, I always thought that my point of view was right - Impulsive, romantic, the hare. I thought there was only one way to conduct oneself in certain situations. But now I see that there is value - great value - to the other side as well. I am humbled and willing to admit I was wrong. Which, for this Impulsive thinker, is a huge thing.


Blogger lisoosh said...

According to a study I read years ago, people who did well on exams usually took more time reading the question.

4:54 PM  

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