Mutual Aid and Human-Centered Learning for Neurodivergent and Disabled People
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Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world. As a result, they shape the goals we seek, the plans we make, the way we act, and what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions. In politics our frames shape our social policies and the institutions we form to carry out policies. To change our frames is to change all of this. Reframing is social change.
You can’t see or hear frames. They are part of what we cognitive scientists call the “cognitive unconscious”—structures in our brains that we cannot consciously access, but know by their consequences. What we call “common sense” is made up of unconscious, automatic, effortless inferences that follow from our unconscious frames.
We also know frames through language. All words are defined relative to conceptual frames. When you hear a word, its frame is activated in your brain.
Yes, in your brain. As the title of this book shows, even when you negate a frame, you activate the frame. If I tell you, “Don’t think of an elephant!,” you’ll think of an elephant.
Though I found this out first in the study of cognitive linguistics, it has begun to be confirmed by neuroscience. When a macaque monkey grasps an object, a certain group of neurons in the monkey’s ventral premotor cortex (which choreographs actions, but does not directly move the body) are activated. When the monkey is trained not to grasp the object, most of those neurons are inhibited (they turn off), but a portion of the same neurons used in grasping still turn on. That is, to actively not grasp requires thinking of what grasping would be.
Not only does negating a frame activate that frame, but the more it is activated, the stronger it gets. The moral for political discourse is clear: When you argue against someone on the other side using their language and their frames, you are activating their frames, strengthening their frames in those who hear you, and undermining your own views. For progressives, this means avoiding the use of conservative language and the frames that the language activates. It means that you should say what you believe using your language, not theirs.
Often when the radical voice speaks about domination we are speaking to those who dominate. Their presence changes the nature and direction of our words. Language is also a place of struggle. I was just a girl coming slowly into womanhood when I read Adrienne Rich’s words “this is the oppressor’s language, yet I need it to talk to you.” This language that enabled me to attend graduate school, to write a dissertation, to speak at job interviews carries the scent of oppression. Language is also a place of struggle.
Language is also a place of struggle. We are wedded in language, have our being in words. Language is also a place of struggle. Dare I speak to oppressed and oppressor in the same voice? Dare I speak to you in a language that will move beyond the boundaries of domination — a language that will not bind you, fence you in, or hold you. Language is also a place of struggle. The oppressed struggle in language to recover ourselves, to reconcile, to reunite, to renew. Our words are not without meaning, they are an action, resistance. Language is also a place of struggle.
You think you know me?
No, you don't know me
Don't fence me in, I wanna be big
I wanna be part of everyone and everything
No fence around me
No, you can't limit me
I'm in-between, your set of rules
Don't even come close to applying to me
It's all make believe
I wanna be part of everyone and everything
--Dont' Fence Me In
Further readingThere are three types of reading: eye reading, ear reading, and finger reading.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning Most schools and...,
Published by Ryan Boren
#ActuallyAutistic retired technologist turned wannabe-sociologist. Equity literate education, respectfully connected parenting, passion-based learning, indie ed-tech, neurodiversity, social model of disability, design for real life, inclusion, open web, open source. he/they
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