Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of the other things ADHD podcast.
Oh, love things. Yeah, the podcast that tries to bring it all back together when things are falling apart.
When are things ever not falling apart, though?
Well, look, that's the thing. That's why it's more than one episode our podcast. That's why we have more than 80 episodes. It's not a problem we can fix Lee, it's a problem we can manage. Fairly
barely. It's a problem we could talk about. Let's put it that way.
There you go. Yeah,
there we go. That's fair.
When I said management, I meant talk about Yeah, that's my whole mode. Yeah. Okay. Yeah.
Super. Yeah. Thank goodness. Hopefully, hopefully, you all can find somebody who can help manage the way we found the person and I just put manage in you can't see me, but I just wouldn't manage and like air quotes with my fingers. So
I did. I did. Um, so the semester has drawn to a close. So we are entering summer mode. I'm not but you probably are. Or maybe some of you already there if you're on a quarter system. So Summer, summer is coming upon us. But that actually isn't we did that last year, I'll maybe I'll remember to link it in the show notes. But probably not.
People know how to search for things. People are good at that on this podcast. Are they though? I think so. I think when they get like we tell them they can't do it. They gonna be like, Oh, well, we'll show you. I'm gonna find that. Annotate every episode. Yeah. Okay, great.
Yeah, they actually could if they went into the transcript because otter will let them do that. Anyways. sidetrack, what are we actually going to talk about today,
we're talking about divergent thinking, and convergent thinking, which, as it turns out, are the two main kinds of thinking and most grownups that do not have ADHD are primarily good at one kind of thinking, and surprising no one. Most grownups with ADHD are much better at the other kind of thinking. But most of the supports in this world are set up to help people achieve more of the type of thinking that ADHD people do all the time. And none of it really helps anybody with ADHD, access the other kind of thinking. Yeah, exactly.
So I, so I came across convergent, I got really excited when you start thinking about convergent versus divergent thinking because I have been sharing a video by Sir Ken Robinson and I love saying, Sir Ken Robinson, because he was knighted for being an imagination expert.
I love that.
I know, right? Like, how can I get in on that racket? Um, that's
like, that's the job title. That's right up there with like, Director of swiftness enforcement. Yeah, we just got to start keeping a running list of like, the greatest jobs. So like posing and most
of you remember on showcase. And this is such a Canadian reference. I don't know where it aired down here in the states, if it ever did. But you remember on showcase. There was a show called the thirsty traveler. Yes, I do. That was also the best job. The dude literally flew around the world to learn about the nation's booze. I love that and, and partake in ritualistic drinking ceremonies. And basically the end of the episode is always him drunk saying goodbye.
Right? Right. I mean, this is a great job
also. Yeah, yeah, I was like, and, and my husband and I then boyfriend, but like, always marveled, because he got all of these different provincial and federal like funding to support the show. And I'm just like, man, dude, that is so like, what if I came up with a show where I went around the world and just filmed myself drinking various alcohols, and got the government to pay for it?
Well, if it employed Canadian production assistants, Canadian editors, Canadian self, then it would be common.
Yes. Oh, no,
it was so clearly can't go on. Anyway. Oh, my God, Lee, we're diverging. I
know we're diverging. Yeah, so anyway, sir. Ken Robinson did this video called convergent versus divergent thinking. It was a TED talk. Sorry, it was a TED talk. And then, from the TED talk, they did the very mid aughts thing where they created a whiteboard animation for it or somebody sketches it out during the entire thing. And I used to share that with my writing students all the time. And, and the the the test that they gave, and I always also always tell the story. Two is that I would pause the video towards the beginning because Sir Ken Robinson would stop and say this is the kind of test for divergent thinking of how many uses Can you come up With a paperclip. Right? Right. And I would always pause it at that point and ask the class. Okay, how many uses are there for the, for the paperclip? And, you know, they'd be like, Hold paper, you know, hairpin, you know, pierce your ears and I was like, Ooh, please don't do that. But sure. And then, this one year that I did it very early on, there was one kid in the back of the class who I press play on the video, and he kept yelling out uses for the paper.
Right? Like you, my friend have a
yeah, you my friend have ADHD but also a divergent thinker. And you can't stop now thinking about all the different ways that you can think of and, again, that the the, the the further example that Sir Ken Robinson gives in the video, which I will share in the show notes, because I'm obsessed with this video.
Well, can I just interrupt you for a moment about the paper clips? Yeah, cuz this is now like, you know, I've been doing a lot of research into generative AI right now because people keep asking you to research a generative AI and, and they call it the paperclip. problem, right? Which is, if you have an AI that's to single minded and task completion, right, if you're like, Please optimize the production of paperclips like it will start nuclear wars, it will start grinding up human bones, it will do anything until the world is nothing, you know, but a giant collection of paperclips because it's got no chill, and no sense of scale. Right. So an AI when given a paperclip maximization problem will just produce endless numbers of paperclips that it has no use for and no sense of idea about because it's an AI right, it's not yet able to make meaning and, and I think the paperclip problem is also an unfair one to give to ADHD students because anybody who has ADHD has been trapped in a classroom setting with nothing at their disposal, but one pencil, a couple of paper clips of sharpener and a ruler, right. So I think your standard issue office supplies, anyone with ADHD has already figured out 80 billion ways to stim or fidget or occupied and time. Well.
To be fair, all of the examples he came up with were disruptive, right? It was like, and then I make it into a slingshot. And then I use it and try to throw it up into the ceiling and get it to stick in there. And then, you know, like they were all pretty much disrupted uses.
He's interrupting the video by yelling out these disruptive uses. That feels very mad. Yeah.
Yeah, exactly. But But anyways, but then, you know, and even one that I didn't think of and, you know, now I always think of it is that, does the paperclip need to be the paperclip as we know it? Or could it be 300 feet made out of foam rubber? Right. Right. And that's kind of also divergent thinking and provocation. Right, that gets us Oh, no, I'm only thinking of it as the small metal thing. Yeah. Yeah. Because I have to keep thinking about it that way. No, apparently I don't Oh, well, in that case, in that case, right case. So
yeah, so that's really, that's divergent thinking divergent thinking is to, to be presented with a fact. Right? And then to spin out 100 alternative conditions for that, right. And convergent thinking, is the opposite of that. Right. So I saw graphic online that was like divergent thinking shows like, you know, the top view of a brain stylized brain. And in there, it has like, fact, and then a bunch of arrows shooting out from the brain in all different directions that says questions, right? Which is kind of my experience of encountering anything in the world. I see it. I'm like, Huh. And then I have 5 million ideas about it. And convergent thinking is a number of facts. The arrows are pointing in towards the brain, right? All the facts are going in. And then in the center of the brain, it says an answer. Like, Oh, I bet those people finish things. Right.
People don't interrupt class by blurting out more and more answers. Yeah, even after we've moved on to the next.
Right, like, tell me if this feels relatable to you. I bet you those people aren't proofreading the final submission of their 6000 word paper that was supposed to be 4000 words, get to do a conclusion and go, Oh, no, I miss this thing. I need to restructure this entire thing, because now I know how to make it work better, right? Yeah. Isn't that a problem? I think that convergent thinkers have, and it is a problem that divergent thinkers have. And like what that research also shows, right? Like the TED Talk that you're citing, and a lot of the things that I've read this week, is that young children have an astonishing capacity for divergent thinking, yeah, right. That they're just like, what's this for? Can I put it in my nose? Right? And then they do and they're like, oh, I don't like that. I won't do that yet. But maybe I can put it in my ear. Right? All right. Great. Like this. One time, my kid came home. And they were walking kind of funny. I was like, what's what's wrong? And she's like, I don't know, like, and then everything's like, I just I'm gonna take her pants off and figure out what's happening. She's really young. And they took their pants off. And that was like, you have rocks in your underwear. And they're like, yeah. Why? Like, did you do that on purpose? Like what happened? And they're like, Well, I don't have any pockets. Look, well, that's why you can't sit down you have rocks in you're like, all right, like nobody else had that idea. They'd be like, I guess I can't carry any rocks. But like, divergent thinker type is like, Hey, I have an idea. Like another place that I can use to store their rocks was in the toes of their shoes, which then meant they couldn't walk. Yeah. Right. We're like, can we take those rocks out? But like, do those are my rocks? Like? Yeah, right. So very young children are quite creative, right? And creativity is as manifest in this kind of mode of divergent thinking like, why, why, why? And could I do this? Could I do this encourage you this. And then what the research tracks is that with every year of formal schooling that they have, they lose the ability to think of innovative or novel or unexpected uses for the paperclip? Right? Where the rocks I guess, yeah. And so the the movement that we often see that when when students get into university, right, particularly in the humanities, is we try to teach them again, to become divergent thinkers. Right, like, and I see this in my own teacher, which is not even realizing doing like, when I tell them, I'm gonna set my iPhone timer, and then I just, I want the ideas to come out of their fingertips not in other brains, right? We just don't censor, don't edit. You know, there's no bad ideas here. There's just blank pages, right? There's no awkward questions. There's just awkward silences. Right, like, just just let it all come out. Because I know they can't do that. Right. And, but you know, who that does not serve Lee. It does not serve my neurodivergent students who do nothing. But divergent thinking. They're the ones that you do like a three minute timed rewrite. And then you go around the room asking people how many words they managed to type. And everybody's like, at 150 somebody be like, I got 200. And then like, you're like one neurodivergent superstar. Hanuman, like, I got 800. Yeah. Right. And I just like, and I missed a bunch of ideas, I couldn't type fast enough, right. So a lot of like, a lot of our more advanced instruction for like, you know, the good students or the people who are moving on, and all these workshops, like you never get workshops. You know, nobody pays like $10,000 a day for a consultant to come in and do workshops about bullet journaling, like they don't write, I mean, maybe bullet journaling, but not like here's how to use a Rolodex, right, because like, that's boring. And everybody already knows how to do that. We have people come in with like stacks of paper clips, and some pipe cleaners and construction paper and they're like, let's make a house for a flea, because you need to learn how to be creative, and I'm like, Bitch, please, like, stop. So, I would flag you know, we talked earlier in a different episode about how there's a lot of advice for neurotypical people that does not really work for neurodivergent people and this might be one of them, right? It's this emphasis on people really need to nurture their divergent thinking capacity, and many people do but you know, where my deficit
is. Li corralling it corralling the divergent thinking, yeah, corralling the
divergent thinking. So I drew myself a little picture while I was thinking about this. And the picture that I drew was like a funnel, a giant funnel with a whole bunch of like, random shit pouring in the top of it. And it drip drip drips at the bottom and out comes a finished paper. And the person says, done, like, that's convergent thinking and then my mode of divergent thinking, which is my more natural mode is like being shot out of a confetti cannon. Yeah. It's like, you know, you like the match by saying like, Oh, I wonder if and then boom, like, everything just explodes creates a huge mess. Everything goes very fast. It's very exciting. And then you like, now what?
Yeah, now? What's
it like? Confetti and do something with it? Yeah, right. Like shit.
I just I. Yeah, like, that's my word vomit. Right. That's my word vomit. Where I'm just, it's funny, because I didn't know what kind of writer I was. So I'm actually not too. i My, my problem was sidetracks. Right. That didn't really go anywhere, though. But isn't this but isn't this interesting? Yeah, like side trips, side quests.
You took the road less traveled by? You will? Yeah.
Yes. In one essay. Yeah. And I didn't notice it until or really pick up on it until I edited I may have told this story before where edit. I was editing a book very early on when I was a PhD student I was editing a book of essays on any bag. And somebody did that. Where there was this one section is like, by the way, let's talk about the symbolism of this red dress. And let's go looking back in all of her other novels about like red dresses. Okay, now back to the main topic, right? And I was like, again, and a bear nerd. Cool. I didn't know this but also Maybe this could be a footnote or an entirely different essay. And oh my god, this is exactly what I fuckin do.
Right? Yeah. See? Yeah, this is my reference to of teaching. It's like, Oh, hold on.
Yeah. And again, I had people tell me, I had professors telling me I've had like, reviewer, well, maybe not reviewer two. But I like reviewer one told me these things. And I couldn't see it. I was just like, I don't like it all just fits together and make sense. And then I read it in somebody else's essay for the first time. And was like, oh, yeah, that is what I do. I find the red dress. That's really interesting, but doesn't really have anything to do with the argument I'm making in this essay. But I'm gonna keep digging on it anyway.
Yeah, as a passenger, when you are in the vehicle that's going down the highway at highway speeds and suddenly gets thrown into reverse, you feel that a little bit more than when you are the driver? You know, it'd be cool actually goes car into reverse, right? So your experience as like a passenger in that particular intellectual vehicle, that sense of jarring disjuncture, right. Really through you, and you couldn't see it in your own writing. Like, but that is an interesting idea. I threw the car into reverse. I think that's great, right? Yeah. Yeah. And I do that, too. So like, I'm famous for writing pieces, where what I cut out in terms of finished prose is usually about the same length as what I leave in, like, yeah, finished. Yeah. Rows. Right. Yeah. Great ideas that are, like, cited and have quotations and arguments structured. I'm like, Yeah, you know, but I don't have as much space.
is, it's kind
of a side quest. It's a side quest. Right. Like side quest. Yeah. So. So like, everything that I've been reading now I've been thinking about, because like, there is a strong association of divergent thinking with creativity. Right. And so creativity, but they're not the same thing. Right. Yeah. So creativity, like is often defined as having an original idea that has some value
to Yeah, right. Yeah, that was Ken Robinson, right. Original idea that has some value.
Yeah. I mean, and that's like, that's throughout the literature on this, I should have just watched a TED talk, because I think I read like 15 peer reviewed articles before you're like, oh, that sounds like this TED talk. And I was like, fucker, right. Watch the TED talk. I was like, Yeah, I read that paper. I read that paper. God, right. I just cycle it. Because I was supposed to be doing something else. I read papers on creative thinking and all that stuff. So yeah, so. So creativity is defined as having like a novel idea. That's like, actionable. And a good idea, right? And so not all divergent thinking is creative. Like we've had a lot of divergent thinking, like a lot of my divergent thinking is like, Oh, I'm writing and it's a little bit emotionally difficult because I'm having to commit to doing some stuff. For bet, yeah. Right. You could clean this window. Right. Like is that's not actually useful there. That's not helping me my incapacity, with my executive function to manage my self diverting. Yeah, so So Right. Yeah. So but what what transfigures divergence into creativity, right, which is something that has value is the capacity to produce a novel idea and then assess it. Right. Like, is this a good idea? Or not? And then the follow through on it, right? Yeah. And, and so I think that many of us, this is like an emotional health break for us right now, many of us have been told that we have too many ideas, and our ideas are weird. The other writing is so unusual. And all of these things, and we've been led to believe that that's probably a bad thing, because it's different from how other people write. And some of us then bury it. And then some of us, like me, are like, right, I'm going to have a weird haircut, I'm gonna get a bunch of piercings, and I'm going to be very weird and like, you want divergent I am all in on divergent. And you and your convergent thinking can go to hell, you a bunch of conformist normies, but like, they finish stuff, that's boring. And I have amazing ideas that no one ever gets to see. Right. So sometimes we either deny our own divergent thinking, as if we could just suppress it and get better at convergent thinking, just by suppressing the one mode of thinking that's not how it works. The other thing that we might do defensively looks like aggression, which is to go all in on being pure chaos, which is more my mode, right? And hope that some of it lands somewhere that someone will do something with. That's why I love lecturing without having notes. Right? Oh, gosh, I have no. Okay, I can deal with that. We're doing a lesson on Garfield now because some student made a sarcastic joke about the I think they remember from the newspapers, Garfield, okay, well, let's talk about syndication in the Garfield moment. Like I can do that right now. Great. Yeah. Fine. But eventually, you have to finish things. Right? Yeah. So if that
really was lecturing the bell just while the bell doesn't go off in university, but the bell goes off. Eventually the students are like it and then I have to go to another class goodbye. And you're like, yep, that's
fine. That was there. Like academic writing doesn't work like that. You know, putting a vacation plan together. Doesn't work like that. You're like we could fly on any of these days. We could stay in riverboat. or an air b&b or a hotel or we could see if we have friends, we could make this a cultural trip, or we could make it a sports trip. And like you just keep having ideas of all the things you could plan for your vacation. And then by the time you like, are ready to commit, now the flight prices have doubled. And there's no availability, or any or you have overs,
or you've over planned your trip, or you've over planned your trip. And everybody's miserable. Because it's like, I didn't get to do all the things I thought we should do. And everybody else is exhausted and pissed off.
Right? Because you spent too much time adding more things. Yeah, not enough time. winnowing it down. Yeah, what's reasonable or just making like a satisficing. Rather than an optimizing decision, right? It gets only three days, we can't do eight things like or what have you, right. And I will bet you that many of our listeners are bedeviled by this that your greatest gift, which is your capacity to find interesting new things to do with a paperclip including hold your pants together or pull the zipper up on your like super tight ATS pants when the zipper thing pulls off from you. Oh, yeah, I've done it too hard, like, great. You solve that problem, bravo. But maybe you never finish your big projects. Because every time you sit down, fractal like you have a new Paisley appear out of every embellishment on the original Paisley, which just produces more embellishments, which just produces new paisleys. Right? So divergent thinking is amazing. You should let yourself be a divergent thinker. But we need to think a little bit about how, how can we balance that maybe with your divergent thinking does not help yourself or anybody else if you could never manage to operationalize the great ideas. Yeah, well, and
I think that that's one of the hardest things. So I'm, you know, my thing and again, we've all we've talked about this where we love Twitter for that reason. Yes. Right, where I was known as somebody who would connect people across disciplines who are looking at the same things. Yeah. Right, where it's just like, you're in media studies, you're in AI, you're in English, but you also happen to be studying, like, Facebook is the example. Right? Like you were my Facebook person, or anything that came across my timeline that had anything to do with Facebook, I'd be like, Amy might like this, you know, like, oh, Amy, have you met Amy, Amy, have you met this person? Because they seem to be doing? And particularly in my role, because I come from the academic side. And I've moved into the staff side of higher education. And I work in tech. Yeah, broadly, right. So I do online learning. But I used to do digital humanities, I do ad tech. But there's also some it elements. And those are all people that I'd followed for a long time on Twitter. And they never talked to one another. And this is part of how higher education and really anything is set up as silos, right? The IT folks have their department and their conferences and their publications, and their norms and standards. Yeah, and the digital humanists have theirs. And the Online Learning people have theirs. And the educational technologists have theirs, and it is very, very siloed. Mm hmm. Um, and I'm the person who's sort of sitting there going, Hey, why the hell aren't we all talking to one another? Because like, we're talking about exactly the same things. Yeah. But like, so my most recent, kind of like, hey, a ha moment was putting together and again, I'm nerding out here, and everybody's gonna, like fall asleep. But whatever I love this shit. Is taking this concept of minimal computing that was developed in the digital humanities, which is about sustainability about access
to NIH grant to do digital humanities. Yeah, yeah, exactly.
That's, that's it in a nutshell, right? Like, how do you, but also, again, make it sustainable and accessible to different populations, right, like digital humanities have become a very, quote unquote, first world Western kind of approach. It started that way. It started that way. Yes, because you needed a lot of computing power, but you don't necessarily have to. And so it's thinking about these kinds of things is like, what do we need? What are we willing to sacrifice? What can we do? Right and develop it, develop tools, and approaches that embrace this sort of minimal computing ethos? And I'm like, Why the hell are we thinking about this in terms of Ed Tech? Because everybody's bemoaning Big Ed Tech, but they're just like, well, we don't know what to do. Because like they've taken over our imagination when it comes to like, everything needs to be bigger, more powerful, more bloated, etc, etc. And I'm like, Well, what if we applied a minimal computing approach to EdTech? And so this is my this is the thing that I am writing everything and presenting on everywhere right now. And
look up to here and say, this is going to be a word nerd moment that's going to be relevant to you what you're doing there is like you have become a generalist, right? Yeah. In the sense that yeah, like what you know, about across five different fields 80% of what people know in there In fields, right, yeah, because you read very quickly understand stuff very quickly, you make connections very quickly. And so you have a divergent set of interests and the kind of speedy brain, right the Lamborghini and a lawnmower with bicycle brakes like so you can learn a lot of stuff fast meet a lot of people manage a lot of threads on Twitter at the same time. And then what you manage to do in a convergent way is bring people together or you bring in from other domains, like an idea that's relevant to the current domain and you can connect people there and you know, the word verge right because Khan and die mean into and away from and like, well, what is the verge right. So a verge Li is a border, like a border, it is a border, an edge, it is a boundary, right? So a verge in Britain, for example, you would call a boulevard in the US which is the strip of grass in between the sidewalk and the roadway. It is the boundary right? The the liminal space the edge of something it is,
I was waiting for limited space to come up. I was like,
yeah, yeah. And also like, it's like literally means the edge and the border, right? Because it comes like the the original derivation from I think the Latin means a stick or a rod like you would lay across the ground to indicate where a boundary is offense, right? Yeah. So a verge is a fence. And so divergent thinking needs to go beyond the boundary of something, because it's particularly relevant in occupational context where like, everybody has like, HR does HR stuff, right? And the auditors do the auditor stuff. And like the salespeople do the salespeople stuff, or the ad tech people do the ad tech people stop and the faculty members do that? It's illogical. Faculty members dive in. And, and that's great. We call that siloing, though, sometimes, yeah. Right. Yeah, there's a lot of power that can come from specializing into something I'm making the narrowing gesture, like a funnel, right? So you get very, very expert at a very small thing, but sometimes you can't see the bigger thing. You you draw the fence ever tighter in towards yourself, right. And you're always hopping over other people's fences going, you know, over there. Yeah. They actually have the apple tree. Yeah. With apples in it. Yeah, that's what we could trade some pears. Like, what? That's outside of our fence, right? So we
ended up dragging them, like, let's come over here. And they're like, why are we going over here? I'm really happy here. And I'm like, Oh, all
right. So a verge can also mean idiomatically because I'm going to word kick can also like to be on the verge of something means like, at a tipping point, right? Almost on the tip of your brain, right? That something is on the tip of your tongue where you are on the verge of a break, right? It's a tipping point. It is like an fulcrum. Right. Yeah. Upon which something can pivot from? I don't know, to, to I do know, right. So it's a boundary, but a place where things might happen. It could be a portal, right? And so what you're doing there, you're describing, like being in all these different fields and saying, Well, how can we're not using thinking about the principles of minimal computing, when we're thinking about how to enact some policies or create some some tools or decide which tools to use in edtech? I mean, you're not wrong, but people will be surprised. Oh, yes. I never thought of that
before. No. And they and that's, but my problem is, and I had the same thing with effective labor, and staff is just like, Okay, I've brought all this stuff together. We're all talking about it. Now what? Right, right, like that's, and that's the thing, like, I mean, they know, everybody asked, like, what's next for effective labor and all tacker staff roles? And I'm like, I don't know. Yeah, yeah.
Brought yoga in, right. No, no, no, we don't need more new ideas. Like we need to operationalize like, yeah, you brought all these people together. And all these ideas together, we've had a great discussion now what you're like, No, I don't know. I just,
yeah, I just, I just like it. And again, it's the same thing with minimal computing, where it's like, you know, I, part of it is, and again, imagining different, like imagining getting people to imagine outside of the narrative, which is an important thing to do. Because if all people can see is one path, then that's the path they're going to take, because there's no other way to do it. So it's expanding that sort of Horizon and saying, we could be doing things differently. Here's a different lens in which to look at this and questions to do. Let's think about it. Let's imagine I mean, that's what also fiction does, right? Science fiction hasn't long done that dystopian fiction has done that, like, there's, there are all of these different ways even fantasy. Does that, right? Where we have presented various outcomes that we might not have considered in our own imaginations, right. Like, I mean, I mean, think of Star Trek that way, right? Or Gene Roddenberry is like, what if we, like discovered space? And like, got rid of capitalism, and all just got along? Yeah. Yeah. You know, like, I mean, who, you know, and let's imagine a future like that. Yeah. And so that's, that's where I am at that point. And I'm provoking people and writing about it and going to conferences and having, you know, thought exercises, but then it's like, I don't know how to take that. Yeah. And I can't do that on my own either. I mean, this is a systemic thing. But then there's that question of taking it. And like you said, operations realizing it, like how do we then change our institutions with this new paradigm that we might be able to? To to apply? Right? And that's the different
kind of thing. Exactly. Yeah. Right. Yeah. So you and I are both, like often always looking for more ideas, right? Because that feels comfortable. Yeah. And we know we're good at that, right. And in the moments where it works out, and people are happy that we've been able to think of something new, we like want to bask in that and continue to think of new things, we may really struggle to tie it up with a bowl, right? You can collect buttons forever. But then if you have 75, amazing button jars, but you've never sewn anything, right? Like you really have not done anything except collect a giant jar of buttons, which might be great. If you find somebody to collaborate with who's like, I will sew the pieces together. But like, I wish I was better with buttons. I just never know what kind of buttons I should use for this or where I could get them from me like, well, I can help you out. Right? Yeah.
I got news for you. Yeah. And I guess
like one of the problems, I find it like in my own work, where so much of academic work is so low authored, right? Is this just me and left to my own devices, I will endlessly spin out new ideas, because that's very interesting to me. And it's easy for me to do, right? Yeah. And I like it. And I feel good about it. And I know my ideas are great. And I just want to have more of them, because it's very satisfying to me. But it's not very satisfying when it takes me four years to write a 30 page paper, right? So what I wind up doing is cutting a second 30 pages out of that 30 page paper, right? That I could easily spin into two or more pages, like my main, my main move here is like I'll start a book, and then I'll decide one of the chapters I'm working on, should be its own book. And then I abandon the other four chapters. And I take this one chapter and try to turn it into a book. And then one of those chapters in the new book that I created another chapter that I was trying to write wants to be its own book now. Right? And so,
which is why now edit this. Yeah, yeah.
Is is the thing, right? So so divergent thinking sometimes you have like, instead of just a rowboat with one person pulling the oars, like your brain seems to work like it's a sculling operation that's got eight rowers with bigger oars, except they're all pulling in different directions.
No one's listening to the coxswain up front. No one, no one is McSwain
is asleep. Right. And everybody's pulling in different directions. And the idea here is like the boat actually doesn't go anywhere. Yet. Everybody is still exhausted. Yeah. And sorry, effort, right? Yeah. And so sometimes we we will say like, as instructors to maybe students don't realize they're neurodivergent is like, you have a lot of great ideas here. Like you need to pick one you need to focus like, why don't you just get this down? Or like, you're procrastinating or you're like, delaying or like this is obviously too much. Or like, Well, which one is the idea you like the best? And like I don't know, like, so it's I think not a matter of they're just unwilling, right? I think often, because so much higher order instruction, like is about teaching people how to relearn how to be a divergent thinker, and then sort of nail it down. The idea is like, by the time say that you're writing a dissertation is that you're very adept. Right. And now's the time when you get to do some original thinking, right? You're not just producing coursework papers on a topic somebody else has picked for you. And I mean, it is always the case to that, that you get those students that you teach in the undergrad, where you're like, write an essay about this. So they're like, Well, what are the topics? I'm like, I don't know, like you pick you pick a topic and they can't like they. Yeah, they're like, tell me what to write about. Right? And so you think like, Okay, well, I'm going to teach you guys how to find your own research topics. But like our neurodivergent students often don't need that. Right. What they do need is more interesting and how to tie it up.
Yeah, well, I was one of those because I was the divergent thinker to isn't like, I wanted you to give me a topic because like, I could never choose. That's right. Right. Like, topic, not because I can't come up with any, but because I can come up with too many. Yeah, and now evaluate. Yeah, I can like, is this a good one? Or is this a good one? Is this a good one? Is this a dissertation and Narni? Paper? Yeah,
my paper, right? Yeah. Yeah, that's right. So like this. So what, you know, studies among, like, intellectually gifted populations will say like, they are divergent thinkers. But what distinguishes high accomplishers from not high accomplishers is that they are divergent thinkers who are able to bring a little bit of executive function to their divergent thinking right, where they are a little bit more able to evaluate the quality of their own ideas and to sort of be able to project the scale of the thing that they're trying to do. And then keep themselves like a little bit within a fence. The fence has a lot of gates in it that you can go through the fence is a bit elastic. It's not an electric fence, right? Yeah. But that that divergent thinking without a capacity to then organize, uh, you know, the confetti cannon is great. I like unless you're trying to like shovel the front walk in a straight line, right? That confetti cannon doesn't help you Do you need to pick a direction? Pick a tool and just keep shoveling until you get where you're going? Right?
You know what the analogy I'm thinking of right now is is the is the sharp color fences? Yes. Where we just ignore it though. It's like it'll shock them and stop them. And apparently like, No, it doesn't stop anything like that. Yeah, yeah, those
are dogs that get use, they just know like, once I get past this boundary, the shock stops, right? If I can just get through, it's gonna be like five seconds of unpleasantness, but then I'm free, right? Yeah. Divergent thinkers are often like, because like, they turned down the shock value on the collar so that the people who are convergent thinkers can learn how to diverge a little bit better. Right. But at this at a certain level, like a lot of these exercises, corporate Weiser are about improving your creativity and your life. They also call it lateral thinking, right? Yeah, all of these things. And it just sort of says, oh, but you know, it's it's the thing that people imagine that that's the hard stuff, right? Yeah. And like you and I have said on this podcast before you put the hard stuff is easy. For me. It's easy stuff. That's hard. Right? writing a memo that has the right number of paragraphs are like the amount of emails I write where I like, have to reread them and then cut 75% of the words out. Right? Is me, right? Like other people are like, I get the AI to write my emails for me, because I never know what to say it. I'm like, I never know what to stop saying. Yeah. Right. So so people don't really support that as a skill sometimes that that divergent Apple Well, and,
and this is this is even before we started recording the thing that I was talking about where I can, you know, I've been asked, like, as, not just me, but the our team has been asked to proofread some stuff. And I said, Nah, it's gonna take me too much time given all the other stuff. And everybody was like, what? I don't like no, if you asked me to write it,
yeah, no problem, no problem. But like to edit it, though.
Somebody else has edited it. I cannot like, we need somebody detail oriented, who cares about how the aesthetics look in the past and everything, like, and clicking every single link methodically and making sure that everything like? No, that is that is so hard. That is like really hard for me. And again, it's not that I can't do it, obviously. But it's just I it is that that easy thing for other people, is the thing that it is really, really, really hard for me, that is going to take, you know, as much as you are impressed by how quickly I can create content and right, you should be equally you will be equally impressed, quote unquote, with how long this other task is going to take me. Yeah, right. This this proofreading editing task is going to take?
Yeah, like, and I think that's a great example there too, right? Like, these things are easier and faster for you. And it's a skill that other people don't have. And since that's like, the creative part that other people find difficult. They just assume like if you could write them all in one day, then you could edit them. All. Right, but that's a different kind of thinking, right, divergent thinking versus it's a creative mode versus a like, finessing mode, which is, which is difficult. And, and sometimes, I know and an issue that I have often has been to resist some strategies that might have helped me get better at those things. I don't know if you've ever resisted any strategies that people have tried to give you? I mean, I mean. So the challenge is that our system so much, I can't even think of any right. Right? Yeah. So like in sort of literature on how do you help people with ADHD, right stuff, right? They often say, These people have difficulty organizing tasks, and sustaining attention and having attention to detail. And they are easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli. But I'm always distracted by related thoughts. And when people are like, yeah, you need to, like stop having new ideas. I'm like, you hate creativity. Or they're like, you know, you need to be organized, you need to have a plan. And I'm like, that's, for me. It's right. Like my brains. Amazing. I'm going to have all the ideas that you're gonna see, and maybe my ideas are better, but no one ever knows. Because I don't. Yes, right. You know, and so I resist some of these things that feel like constraints. But yeah, you know, you can't have a Lamborghini and not have brakes on it. Yeah, you can't. I wish that you could. I mean, I've been acting my whole life as if that's possible. Like, I'll show you, I believe, the most creative and like, okay, great. But, yeah, but you need a bit of discipline here. You need a little bit of executive function, or you need some strategies to say that's enough research, like, how could it possibly be enough research? Right? Yeah, there's more I could read. And so like, sometimes my crazy brain, maybe I'm addicted to the drama of my own ideas. It's like, I don't want to admit I have a problem. Yeah. Right. I
mean, there is that not the real Is there really, is that nice, as you said, right. Like, we want to keep doing the things that we have consistently been rewarded and praised. Right? I mean, especially when you are neurodivergent so much in your life has been, you're not good at this or why aren't you good at this or what is wrong with you? That like you find the thing that You're good at. And you're like, I'm just gonna keep doing that. Because like,
forever you just this thing? Yeah, just this one thing.
Yeah, just this one, because this is all I'm good at. And this is all I'm good for.
And better at it. I'm gonna do it all the time. Now it's political. Right? You can't hold me down. Okay, great.
So, no. And, you know, and I think that there's, I've had to, again, that there's a level of self awareness that maybe, you know, again, it was reading that essay that allowed me to recognize the tendency in my own writing, to, at least after the fact catch it, maybe not, while I'm writing and word vomiting, but at least after the fact be like, Oh, here's, here's the side quest. Yeah, I now recognize the side quest. I'm not not taking them. I just now recognize that this is a side quest. Right? So there's a level of self awareness that I think helps, right? And sometimes, and as you said, it can be really difficult. When it's your own stuff, and you understand that, like, this is the, you know, the long and winding road like we the winds just make sense. Yeah, I'm the one cut, you know, I'm cutting the path. And so, you know, I think about what was it? I think it was my, one of my kids was like, is the border between like the the 49th. Parallel is the border between the United States and Canada straight line?
And it depends what you think a straight line is? Well, it
it is most certainly not a straight line. Because when they were making the line they were using, like, you know, there wasn't GPS or anything like that. So it was just like, if you look at it, and there is a clearing, that is the border, right? And they call it the No touching line like the trees are. And if you actually look at the line, it is not strange at all. Sure. Right. It is not strange, best guess. Yes, exactly. It was the best they could do. And they cut it and they drew it. And that's the line. And when you look at a map blown up? Yeah. Is it is straight. But then if you actually look at the path, yeah. As it was cut? Yeah. It's not straight at all. It's straight ish, is yeah, it's straight ish. So that's kind of like we make, you know, increasingly straight ish. Attack. Right? Right. Right. But they're always ever going to be straight ish.
Can we make sure that it's straight ish, and not like, you know, like, radically shooting off,
it's functioning as straightness, right like, because also like, the second thing, there is not that you make a star shaped boundary, where you want a straight line, it's that, where you have really made a best attempt to make a straight line, all you can see are the places where it's just straight ish. And you feel that if you just add some more ideas, you could get it perfectly straight. Yeah, right. Because this is another problem of sort of the divergent thinking is you come up with 50, great ideas, and you try to write them all up, or you operationalize them as best you can. But you have such a degree of self awareness about the quality of your own ideas that you can see, right? That they're not perfect. So if you just like, could find the one more idea like you're aware of the gaps that are left, right, you've had 50 times more ideas than other people have had, right? And so you'll bring like, say, minimal computing into this idea of edtech. And you're like, but I really think we need to bring like, like the sociology, right demographic sociology into this as well, right? You're like, look, we got to get this done. We have three weeks to work on this thing. Like, maybe that'll be a subsequent project. You're like, Yeah, but this isn't as good as it could be. Yeah, if we brought more variables to it, right? And so sometimes,
I do want to talk about to show redlining as well, there we go, Oh, my God, right.
And I tried to say it. So
that's the other essay that I wrote is actually about digital redlining. And this and so then I have to spend a side quest, which I'm increasingly trying not to do, explaining what the hell digital redlining is, and then going into the history of redlining as a concept as it exists here, the United States along racialized lines, and what it means and then the minimal computing has gone, because now I've spent 20 pages going into
what's interesting, and people should know, because it's relevant, but it's relevant right now. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Yeah. So like, sometimes it's this sort of like a solipsism or navel gazing of like being in love with your own ideas. You just want to check more of them in. Right, and that feels a little bit undisciplined. But sometimes it's a more sort of perfectionist style of discipline where you're like, it's not there yet. Like I can see where it could be better, right? Not like, well, this is interesting. I want people to know, it's like, I really feel like I'm not doing this justice. Unless I include this thing, too. Right. And so we have problems, kind of seeing the scale at which perfection like does it have to look like a straight line on the Mercator projection? Or does it have to look like a straight line if I'm standing on one edge of it, looking towards the horizon? Right, like, what level? What degree margin of error? Is there in there? And what kind of grace? Can I extend to people who did their best to get this line sort of straight ish? Or people who did their best to write this piece taking as many variables into account as possible, leaving space for other people to add it in? After writing me?
Yeah, go ahead. And I always try to think of the best advice that you can give somebody who's about to who's about to defend their dissertation or their thesis, which is that is outside of that is to answer that is outside of the scope of this particular project. Yeah. Because there's always somebody who asks, Why didn't you do X, Y, or Z? And you were like, that is outside of the scope that it'd be very interesting for another project, but that was outside of the scope. And I think we have trouble seeing what is outside of the scope?
Oh, sure. Right, feel like the horizon extends further for divergent thinkers. Right? Who like so convergent thinkers, their fence is a little bit closer, right? They're Verge is a little bit closer to them. And they're like, I can see the entire territory, right? Now have that many ideas, I can see the entire territory, I can cover it, right? Yeah, it's almost like divergent thinkers are like up at the top of a cell phone tower within that battery going, Oh, but I can see so much farther, right. Light touches anything the light touch, able to account for and part of this is like a reasonably defensive response to often being told that your things are not complete or not sufficiently thought through, or there's too many spelling errors, or you didn't have enough sources in your bibliography, or it was too many pages or you didn't forum voice correctly, right. So we are inclined a little bit to perfectionism there, because probably from the ways that our assignments or whatever we've made, or our work in the workplace has tended to diverge from the format's and level of detail attention expected by others is that we always assume that people are gonna hate what we do. And it's not good enough. So we're really, really trying to like
more, or do what I do, which is to just say, Fuck it. That's true. Oh, and which is also as we've talked in the past, not healthy, right? I think of my sewing, right, where I hate finishing my sewing, because finishing includes a lot of finicky little details that make everything like put, you know, like do Hong Kong seams on everything and make sure that you finished everything perfectly and everything and I'm just like, I just want this dress to be done. No give shit. You know, and I feel that way sometimes about the ideas, right? Where it's just like, Okay, we couldn't come up with anything. Now, right? Off the bat, it's like, we're done like this. We're moving on to the next idea. You know, you know, I want to move on to the next. And I see that in my dressmaking, right, where it's just like, I just want to move on to my next dress. Like, I want to be done with this dress and move on to the next dress. How can I be done as quickly as possible with this dress? And if it's all on the inside, no one's gonna see it anyway. So who cares?
Yeah, and you can make a lot of progress that way. Like it's really easy to cut out pieces of fabric once you lay the pattern down on it. And the the cuts don't have to be completely perfect. Yeah, because there's going to be inside the seams anyway. Yeah. I always
say it'll come out and we'll look at it. Like they say in movies, we'll fix it in post fix. All the time. When I'm sewing. We'll fix it in post post comes around. I'm like like that?
Yeah, I mean, it's, it's a little bit different than margin for error in cutting out like fabric pieces for a leg, for example, than to be like, trying to line up buttonholes on a shirt, right is like something that if you don't get it, right, it's going to be very visible. It's very slow to do it's fussy. It's really easy to do it wrong in a way that seems to wreck the whole thing, right? And convergent thinking, I think often feels like that. Like, how are you going to turn that into a plan? Like we're going to run an event and you've been researching the caterers and the venues and the possible themes. And now we decided like, nope, cannot write cannot, because there's it feels like there's too many ways this could go wrong.
Yeah. And I think that that's why and again, as you say, it's that difference between you you're an academic and academic, particularly in humanities is very solo, right? You don't collaborate very often. You are you are, you know, the single authored book, the single authored monograph, the single authored article, the single, right, where is now what I've really appreciated and moving into an attacker staff role is that it's all very collaborative. Yeah, right. I am not doing anything by myself. So we are planning this huge event, this huge faculty development event we do every year, and they know what I'm good at. They know the pieces that I'm good at. But we have somebody who makes the spreadsheet. Yeah, right. We have somebody who sets up the spreadsheet beautifully. And then, you know, they're like, Lee, you're so organized. I'm like, No, I just have a part of the spreadsheet that was made for me and said, fill this information out. And I say the rest of it we Yeah, yeah. Don't touch the rest of it, and I won't, right. But here's the here's the part. Aren't you're gonna do all of these things? And we're gonna capture it in these three columns, that we're gonna have six more columns to like, no, no. Oh, well, no. And and, and but it's, but it's like, those are the kinds of limits. Yeah, that I appreciate where it's it's like, they know also, right. Lee can write the draft email. Yes. But we should not send the email. That's right, right, Lee will write the draft email, she will hand it over to us. We will edit the email and she won't care because this email, and then we will send it out once it has been. You know, and so I really like that's one of the things that I like, my best piece of advice. Is it particularly in the workplace is find your team. And I think I've said this before, right? Find the people who, and also learn from them, because I also got that it's like, wow, how are you? So, you know, you're very organized with this. And I'm like, Well, I worked with this person who's no longer working with our unit anymore. I said, I worked with her for a very long time. And her and I became fret friends. And I learned from her. Yeah, it's like, what are the things that I can take from what you do really well, that I can turn into? You know, I'm not going to ever do that. Right? At that level? Where, where, but like pieces of it, right? Yeah, what are the things that I can do? That will make and again, part of it is also I have to work with, I also have to work with other people. So I have to find a way to make my divergent thinking, yeah, fit. Fit with, you know, you know, like I am, I supervise the technology. Right. But I have to be able to teach that. Yeah, what needs to be done to a whole bunch of different kinds of people, right, where I can't be my all over the place self. Yeah, because there'll be like,
you can't come into faces the day before the launch and be like, I stayed up all night, because I had an idea. And I've rigged up every single last page, I've redone the whole navigation structure, redone the way that we're going to describe these tools and offer them to people go I think it's better this way that people will like flip their shit as well as they should, because like you probably did. It was really interesting. But you had to have acid because you did it in 12 hours. And you can't turn everybody on a dime like that. Like I was thinking this is like one of the reasons I like to do news interviews, I did what in my car on the way home from work on to not Wednesday, because I was like, my webinar that I was attending was done at four and I had to be home at 415 to drive my kid to art class. And then the report is like, can I call you up for and I was like, yes. Okay, so you're gonna get me on my commute in my car, my headphones on and and what she was asking me about something about as a mayoral candidate in Toronto has done some stupid on tick tock, you know, people do stupid stuff on the internet. Somebody calls me and I know an awful lot about stuff. And I did a little tiny bit of research and what I liked about she calls me, she asked me three questions that she wants answers to great. And I give her my answers. And they're expert answers, and they're lively. And they're fun, and they explain shit. But then she writes the article and gets my ideas where they fit and cuts all the rest of them out. Yeah, exactly. You need a divergent set of ideas right now. Okay, super. They're like you should write a op ed about that. I'm like, no, no, because I have 8000 words of ideas about Yes, the reporter heard 2000 of them and used 150. Yep. Great. I'm glad I gave you the raw material that you could mine into something else, right. But I do need to develop more of those skills of like, why am I so happy to answer journalist phone calls, but I will not write op eds like I get in my own way. When I do that, it would be better. If I could learn how to be better at that I would be better if I learned it doesn't mean my ideas are wrong. It just means I can't do all of them simultaneously, right? And that's not not something I'm become comfortable with. And this framework of divergent thinking and convergent thinking together are necessary actually to have creativity that is worth a damn to anybody. The more I think about that, the more I'm a little bit more willing to say like, I can't just be a divergent thinker. Constantly. I can't just be the slot machine that someone has to pull. And then the jackpot comes out and it spills all over the floor. Somebody's got to collect those coins, and sort them. And it's probably me. Yeah, right. It'd be better if I could develop a little bit more capacity here. And that doesn't mean that we have to give up on our divergent thinking it is a fucking gift. Yes, you are. A die. Oh, yeah. That is an amazing capacity that all four year olds have and almost no 40 year olds have. Great hold on to that right it just because you need to work on your convergent thinking or your capacity to operationalize or hand stuff in on time or like show up at the time at the place that the thing when you'd really rather chase an idea down an internet rabbit hole while sitting on the toilet for an hour. Right? Like, yeah, you can't bother to get out and then you can't fill your feet anymore. Yeah. And then you can't feel your feet anymore or your toes are blue like not that that's ever happened to me or no no, of course not and others like it doesn't mean you have to give that up. Right? It just you have to maybe try to find a balance because what the reason search shows is that creativity actually consists of both. So it is it is a lie to think that ADHD ways of thinking are always wrong, right? They're just maybe in a proportion that gets in our own way. Sometimes, we've been chastised about being too divergent for too long and it doesn't mean you have to give that up. It really doesn't.
So I'm watching the new Muppets mayhem show where the Electric Mayhem is trying to make an album. Their first ever album is amazing. I love it. That one of the nice things about Disney owning everything is that they get to spoof so many different IPs right within and make references anyways, I love them up. It's anybody who knows me knows I love them up. But absolutely, there was there was there was an entire episode about all of the reasons why they couldn't commit to writing a song. Right? That they all had to get out of their own ways. Like so. Floyd was a perfectionist. Dr. Teeth couldn't commit. Yeah. Janice was too worried about taking care of everybody else and not focusing in on herself. Animal is well animal. Yeah. You know, Zutaten Zutaten mumbles are well that but anyways, it was really it was really interesting. Like they just made me think of that right? There were all of these reasons why all these tremendously creative Muppets
that just made my whole day that phrase.
But But seriously, check out the show. It is amazing. It's really, again, I have a soft spot for the Muppets. Not everything that they've done recently has been great. But I we got through almost the entire 10 episodes yesterday. And wow. Yeah. And like all of these little references. And anyways, so on that note, I have a schedule to keep because I have a child to go pick up.
And yeah, and I'm on my research term. I'm pure chaos.
Well, I still have three weeks of three weeks of pickups and drop offs until I'm pure chaos again.
Wait, I have to show you something. I know that our listeners can't see it. But I need to show you this is a mug and you see what's on it. It's one of my own drawings. Okay. It's about ethos and positionality. And it's fan art. I was at a conference doing a keynote chat GPT at the festival of teaching and learning at the University of Alberta and my new friend Kirsten Mary, who is able to make these at home made it for me overnight in between, like the last session of the day in the first session the next day, so shout out to my friend new friend.
No, I'm gonna now I'm gonna get a screen grab.
So this is riveting podcast right here where I have a screen grab what we're doing screen grabs. Yep, yeah. Of my mug.
Kirsten Mary made for me, which is just so ADHD is like now we're friends. I've made you fan art. It's a mug. I hope you like it. Shit. Yeah, I like it. Yeah, of course. I love it. Oh my god. Oh, I'm being weird, everybody.
Yeah, keep on being weird. Like, honestly, it's great. So we are Did you walk and ready riding on the Twitter's and the Instagrams. Our website is all things ADHD, att.com and all the things adhd.com For the website, and all the things firstname.lastname@example.org For the email address.
I love that you got distracted partway through that I forgot what you were saying.
i That's usually how things work. So you know, we'll see. We'll see you when we see.
Yeah. Enjoy the episode. Who knows when you're getting another one.
We'll be back soon. Ish. Ish soon. Soon. As soon as when he comes back soon. How soon is soon soon? No, no,
we're gonna be diverging from our own schedule, if you