Neuroscience, Jungian Type and Mathematics–Insights into Student Struggles: Jane Kise at TEDxEnola

Neuroscience, Jungian Type and Mathematics–Insights into Student Struggles: Jane Kise at TEDxEnola


Translator: Mohand Habchi
Reviewer: Reiko Bovee Thank you. In the small but worldwide
communities of the Jungian type, I’m enough of an expert
that I get to write books and speak at a lot of conferences. And in my formal life,
as a financial analyst I got to use math everyday. For about the last 15 years
I’ve combined all of that helping as many teachers as possible meet the needs of more students
in their classroom. So what’s Jungian type? How many of you have taken
the MBTI, the Myers-Briggs? In most rooms, most people have. Some even remember their four letter code. A few of those remember what it means, and even fewer had the chance
to apply the concepts. I have been studying it for 20 years. It’s a rich theory of human
development and interaction, and every year, we find
new insights and applications. My most recent research has involved– studying students doing math. We filmed about 100 students,
all doing the same math fractions task, look for patterns in what they did, and saw whether they had any correlations
with their psychological types. Meanwhile, my good colleague,
Dr. Dario Nardi at UCLA, was hooking students up to EEGs and running them
through all kinds of tests, and looking for the same kind of patterns. And I can say with confidence
that Jung was right. There are eight kinds of brains,
evidence for the 16 types, but what’s more important to us today is that the insights and images
we got from that research, really help teachers understand the very different needs of students
who don’t learn like them. What does it mean
when we actually put it into practice? Well, just to start,
I’ll give you a little tidbit. I was running an intervention for some very active,
very discouraged sixth-graders. And part way through the intervention one of the girls
looked at the clock and said, “Oh my gosh, we’ve been doing math
for three hours and understanding it.” That’s what we need,
that kind of engagements, if we’re going to move kids
to where they really get going in math. So before we dig into the research,
what is the Jungian type? It’s a framework for understanding
normal differences in normal individuals – Whoops! We need to back up! – how they gain energy,
how they gain information, how they make decisions,
and how they approach work and life. I saw the biggest differences
in energy and information looking at the math research. So that’s what we’ll spend
most of our time today. But the way we do
these things are preferences. Just like we’re right or left-handed,
we have these psychological preferences. But we can use both. No good basketball coach is going to
let you just dribble with one hand. You are going to learn to use both,
and shoot with both hands. And in school, students
really need to learn to use all the psychological preferences. But we’ ll be looking at students
who aren’t getting it, and looking at what happens when we give them a little boost
in their own psychological preferences. So, to get at this idea of energy which has been all over
Time Magazine and Scientific American, everything else this week, I guess they haven’t been listening
to us for the last 80 years. We split kids into two groups,
we teach them about type then say, “If you think you’re extroverted,
go to one side, if you think you’re introverted
go to the other, and draw your ideal classroom.” – Whoops! It’s jumping ahead on me. – There we go. So, the extroverts: those circles are chairs
with springs on the bottom, so they can bounce their energy out. The green squiggly line is the maze
they can run through and find candy; they weren’t in the healthy schools. There’s a Burger King,
a boogie baby dance floor, a track, a swimming pool,
a football field, a basketball court. You get the idea?
Energy through action and interaction. Meanwhile, an introverted group
called me over and said: “Don’t we each get
our own sheet of paper?” I said, “Deal with it.” So, they each drew their own classrooms
in a corner of the page: spacious, calm, energy
through solitude and reflection. Of course, most classrooms have
both extroverted and introverted students, and a teacher who needs to be energized. This theory helps them figure out
what each other’s needs are and then negotiate
so that everybody has energy. Second pair of preferences
we’re going to look at this morning are sensing and intuition. People who prefer sensing get
their information first through reality, but their five senses can tell them,
and through experience. Those who prefer intuition, get their information through hunches,
connections, and analogies. So what differences
does this make in math? Well, in the 100 students I filmed not one sensing student used the numbers
to solve any of the fractions tasks; not even the one who had the highest
math score in the whole school. They drew pictures; used manipulatives. Sometimes they’d say, “My pictures are right,
but I don’t think the math will work,” and checked with numbers. Intuitives, they used numbers whether
they knew what they’re doing or not: adding, subtracting, calculating. Sometimes they’d say,
“I know the math is right, but I don’t think my picture
will work when I draw it. And sometimes it didn’t. They use the wrong color tiles, none of the sensing type made
that mistake, using the wrong colors. Sometimes, they’d be talking about 12
when they only had 10 tiles out. They really don’t see
reality all the time. Even more important,
was their need for feedback. Two thirds of the sensing kids
asked permission to use the materials. Even though we put everything out – the paper, the tiles, the markers –
and said, “This is all for you,” not a big deal; over half
of them asked permission to try the problems in a certain way, saying things like, “Can I use six tiles?
Is it OK if I draw a rectangle?” They didn’t want to proceed unless they were sure they were on track
with what the facilitator wanted. The more insecure they were
in the math skills, the less likely they were to go forward without knowing they were
on the wrong track. Extroverted intuitives assumed permission. They said, “I can use this, right?
I can do it this way, right?” Not one introverted intuitive
asked permission to do anything. That’s my preferences. My parents
would not be surprised at that. So already we’ve got
three big differences: they make different kinds of mistakes;
they need different kinds of feedback, and they have a different affinity for concrete versus
abstract world of numbers. Before I show you
some of the results from the film, I want to just introduce
Dario’s brain lab. He works at UCLA; he’s been hooking
college students up to EEG caps. Having them in the lab for 2 to 3 hours, just a 15 minutes shot
doesn’t show the overall patterns. He has them do math problems, but also wordplays,
role-playing, juggling. He tried speed dating, but that turned out to be related
to hormones and not the type. (Laughter) And he saw the same big patterns
in the brain that I did. And by the way, we both assessed type by doing lengthy teaching to the students about what these concepts mean,
giving them experiences, so it’s not just a paper and pencil
assessment; it’s a verified type. Dario was taking the patterns
he saw on the filming, and overlaying them against
these 16 regions of the brain that are well documented in neuroscience. And I won’t be talking
about all of these today. I am going to be looking
at the macro state that he saw on the brains. But when you look at these regions,
the 16 types actually use different ones. When we’re listening,
when we’re using a math problem, when we’re doing math problems,
when we reason, there’re only two types
that actually use the logic center. The rest of us fake it
if you haven’t noticed it in the past. We can all learn to use it, and in fact you’ll see variations
based on education and culture, but there’re phenomenal correlations
between type and how we use our brain. So let’s see what this looks like
with one of the students. A sixth-grader, about a year behind
in math, was asked to make a shape that was a quarter red
and three quarters yellow. And here’s his first attempt. If he’d kept going
he would’ve done 8ths. Right? But he went back and he read
the problem and said, “Oh, now I’m starting to get it.” He drew this because the example
that he saw used 8ths. He was using the reality of the example
to try to make sense of things. So he put the sheet over,
and he drew this one. Then he read the problem again and said, “Now I got it. I need
another piece of paper.” And he drew this one. I called it “Purposeful trial and error.” He made something; he read
the abstract words and numerals again, he made something else, going
back and forth until he understood it. He didn’t need help; he just needed time.
Here’s what his brain looks like. You can see there’s just
a little color in each square that almost looks black on each region, and the right shows
the neocortex activity; just slightly on
in each version of the brain. Dario calls this the tennis hop. You know how players stand
ready to go in any direction; that’s what their brains are doing, waiting for something to happen
so that they can react to it. He was drawing things
to make something happen. Two things: when I show the whole film
in workshops, usually a teacher will say, “How many of you wanted to help him
after he made the second mistake?” saying, ‘Oh honey. You know,
let’s not get discouraged here.” And he didn’t need help;
he just needed time. Once another teacher said, “We don’t have time for kids
to try three times.” To which another teacher replied, “So we don’t have time
for these kids to learn.” And there’s some truth in that. In the research we have, these students are over-represented
in our alternative schools. Regular school doesn’t work for them. There’re also underrepresented teachers, so their voices are missing
from these educational conversations. One other thing: you think
a child like this who needs action would use the tiles instead of drawing. I asked him out in the hall and he said,
“Well, only dummies used the tiles. Our teachers tell us not to
unless we have to.” When we rush students from the concrete
to the pictorial, to the abstract, here’s something to keep in mind. In Dario’s brain lab, these kids
showed more brain activity when they were looking out the window than when they were doing
the math task sitting down. If you really want to get
them active in learning, give them manipulatives
that they can use while standing up. I was helping out in the classroom, and some of these kids were zoning out,
working at their seats, using these little strips
of fraction paper, so I said, “Why don’t you come up to the front?” And we’ve got these huge magnetic strips
and we worked together. Guess what? Can you say engagement? The teacher couldn’t believe
their high level of math conversations, once they could move around, “No it’s three fourths.
Move that there.” It was great. Intuitives don’t need
manipulatives as much. As my son put it, “What do I
have to move around slices of pizza when I can see the fractions in my head?” Here’s an example where pictures
didn’t work for an intuitive. The sensing teacher had drawn
these two to help the students see why sevenths are smaller than fourths,
even though seven is the biggest number. The kids said, “It doesn’t help at all.” And the teacher started
to draw another model while the students started calculating. And in a little bit,
she raised her hand and said, “OK. I calculated it
common denominator: 28. 1/4 would be 7/28. 1/7 would be 4/28. That makes sense.” Sensing types trust reality.
Intuitives trust the abstract concepts. When kids don’t get it,
we need to provide both. Here’s another holistic pattern. What Dario calls it “The Christmas Tree,”
of extroverted intuition. When they’re brainstorming,
every piece of the brain starts firing asynchronously,
trans-contextual thinking. They need lots of ideas; you can see
how much activity there is in each region of the brain
as they do this. I remember one girl during the filming
trying to make a shape that was a quarter red
and three-quarters yellow. She’s talking about
25, 50, 75 dollars. “Wait, we could use percentages;
that would be 25% or 50%. It’s like a foursquare court.” Finally, all of the sudden
she made a connection and made the correct shape. They need nonlinear methods
of doing these things. Procedures can actually be a disaster if they don’t have
some of these things to hook on to. Here’s what other papers look like. Up at the top here, you can see
that she finally got the right answer although she had to
scratch out a yellow one. She was not paying close attention
to what she was counting. Then she did all of this, trying to make a bigger shape
with more squares that was still a quarter red
and three-quarters yellow. She tried adding, she tried
multiplying, she tried 16th, and all of the sudden, it dawned on her
that all she had to do was add on to the other
shape proportionally. Then, when she started
doing the next problem, which involved thirds and sixths,
she did this whole bit appear making the bigger shape as well
in less than 30 seconds. She made the connection from the fourth
to the sixth and was ready to go. The sensing kids didn’t want
to make that leap. It was if they were telling us, “Well, I get that it works with fourths. You can tell me I can just double it
with sixths and get the same answer. Show me how to do it again.” Intuitives trust their leaps;
it doesn’t mean that they’re smarter. As a matter of fact,
if they leap in the wrong direction, it’s really difficult to break into
that Christmas tree brainstorming and get them back on track. But we often see it as smart, right?
Here’s the third pattern. All of us get this when we’re in flow, but introverted intuitives get
into flow when they’re doing novel tasks. It’s Dario’s and my brain pattern, and we joke that this means
that we think we’re experts at everything. Sorry about that, but what’s going on
is our whole brain go blank, and I think an answer will pop
if I just relax everything. And if we’ve got enough
background information, the answer really does pop. They need a blackout
of external stimulation; too much going on and they can’t do this,
and they need lots of novel problems. As a matter fact, the more
they’re to practice the same thing, a lot of time the worst they get;
not better; it’s just too boring. Here’s what I mean
by blacking out external stimulation. These films are boring to watch. They just sit there staring at the problem
or at the paper for 5 to 10 minutes; they may be counting little bit,
and all of the sudden they go, “Oh, oh. I get it,”
and they write down an answer. I was watching this
with another math coach who said, “Where did that come from? She couldn’t figure that out on her own.” Yes she could; they just need the time,
and there’s no known to figure it out. One of other big patterns,
I can’t show you a clear slide like that because the introverted sensing students,
their brains reflect how they practiced. They actually love practicing and they seem to burn
their neural pathways in whatever their expertise is. So whether they’re violinists
or they’re mechanics or math students, you can see how they learned it
through the paths that they burned, very different from the most
of the other types. And I saw this in an intervention. For example one time we had students rolling dice
with fractions printed on the side. And the fractions
that they came up rolled, they were to write down on a whiteboard
and then add them together. Just a different way of practicing. Two introverted sensing girls
rolled and rolled, maybe 30 problems
all correct until I said, “Do you think you’ve got this? Should we move on to something else?” Meanwhile, there was
an introverted intuitive boy in the room. I checked his five mandatory problems;
he got them all wrong. I knew this child pretty well and I said, “I think you know how to do this
and thought it was a stupid assignment. I need to see five correct, and then
I’ve got way more interesting tasks.” Sure enough I came back over;
he had five right. He engaged in the next level
of tasks so intensely, that I let him teach
the other girls how to do it. They all had a great time. I’ve been in schools where nearly
all the math teachers preferred introversion and sensing,
and firmly believe that the way students
would master math was through practice. And that’s true for students like them. Other students need
the tennis hop of activities, or the Christmas tree
of all the different things going on so they can make those connections, the blues where almost nothing happening
so that something can pop to the top. There’s more brain patterns
but obviously we’re on limited time. so I want to finish with this story. At the end of the fractions, when we’re doing this filming project,
the teachers gave an assessment to see which of the major fractions
concepts these students have mastered. The columns show whether they got
each concept right or wrong on the assessment, and then the colors show how much
knowledge overall they’d gained. So the green kids were good to get
to go and then the other colors showed varying levels
of intervention needed. One of the teachers said,
“All right we know their types. What if just this once
we broke them up for intervention by both type and level of knowledge? Would it make a difference?” And it did. This teacher said it was the highlight
of his teaching career. He had a group of sensing students
and a group intuitive students. The intuitive students
worked for three days on this concept of going
from improper fractions to mixed numbers and back again
– it was one of the state standards – doing all kinds of activities
and on the third day they got it. They came back in the next day,
the teacher said, “You want to do more?” and they said, “We could do this in our sleep.
We’re done. Let’s do something else.” Sensing group: four days
to master the concepts, really about the same level of ability, but everyday after that, when they came
into the intervention class, they asked, “Can we do more problems?
Can we write them for each other?” They even taught the principal how to go
from mixed numbers to improper fractions, and even more important, they started coming
to regular math class on time, sitting up front, pencil sharpened,
asking questions. The teacher said, “What if someone
had stuck with them like that on a concept back in first grade?
Where would they be now?” The highlight of his teaching career. You see those sheep up
to the top of the hill? I had just climbed a similar hill
and believe me, it’s really hard, specially after a rainstorm,
even harder than it looks. So I turned to my colleagues and said,
“Why did those sheep climb up to the top of the hill?
What’s the incentive for them?” And he told me that as far as they know they simply like the taste
of the grass better. Our students have those same kinds
of inborn preferences, and how they tackle learning. And when they don’t get it, we have to help them tackle it
in their own way. I can say with confidence that Jungian type is
a research-based useful framework that helps us to do just that. Thank you. (Applause)

35 thoughts on “Neuroscience, Jungian Type and Mathematics–Insights into Student Struggles: Jane Kise at TEDxEnola

  1. Even though I'm a Ne-dom, I can't just see numbers in my head. That touches on visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learning styles. I still need the Christmas Tree and all of the different perspectives. I still need that big picture first and the words "linear" and "process" and "practice" strikes terror into my heart. ^^'

  2. Hi–there were INTPs in the study, but you're right, not in this film. They tended to do whole problems in their head without moving and then spew out an answer. I use one INTP film in training teachers–they're sure the "poor child" is stuck and are amazed when he draws the figure correctly after about 3 minutes of silence. We talk about how silence does not equal lack of engagement or knowledge!.

  3. It was mostly Ni's who saw it all in their heads. Ne's often tried multiple strategies, such as the crowded paper I showed from the one girl. And no, they did not want to practice!!

  4. Certainly a good study. It looks like when we segregate students by their type and introduce a style of instruction or intervention, we can get a better rate of success.

  5. When referring to the functions, was it referring to having the stated function as the dominant function?

    Also, where can I get more information on that chart shown at 16:06? I was interested to see that INFPs (which I am) are the only type to show "0" for all 5 columns.

  6. I was gonna ask that first question myself. I was somewhat thrown off. But I assumed it was due to her needing to simplify things to present it to people who aren't as familiar.

  7. This is amazing, thank you for such a great contribution to human society. One question at what age to the types evolve and can they change over time?

  8. Hi Kim,
    While ISFPs who are encouraged and taught via methods that tie math to reality do very well, the ISFPs definitely used manipulatives such as tiles to solve the problems. The ones who struggled loved working in very small groups and getting immediate feedback. I remember one girl, who was a very recent immigrant from East Africa, thriving on doing problems that were closely related and having one of us reassure her that she was right. ex.. making shapes that were 1/4, 1/3, 1/5, 1/7 red.

  9. Students do need to be able to learn in all the styes, but when they are truly struggling, helping them in their own style seems to build their confidence. So often math is taught in just one style and if children don't catch on, they quickly assume that the problem is their lack of ability. In general I'd recommend teaching "around the styles" so everyone over time has their preferred way, but grouping for the interventions seemed very effective with these students.

  10. INTP and ISTP, according to research by Dr. Dario Nardi, an instructor at UCLA. You can read more in his book The Neuroscience of Personality or watch his talk at google, which is on YouTube

  11. According to the theory, type is innate. And, we have some good evidence (parents for example definitely see Extraversion and Introversion manifest early on). However, Jung posed the theory as a pathway for development. Mature people use appropriate preferences as situations require. We don't change type, but we develop skills that allow us to see both the big picture and details, logic and the needs of people. Hopefully we build careers based on preferences and avoid consequences of blind spots

  12. Hi–I was referring to the quadrants of the type table, so Introversion & Sensing, Introversion & Intuition, etc. These are frequent cognitive style groupings.

    INFPs are simply one of the rarer types. In the class for which the data was shown, there were no INFPs. The conclusions given for Introversion & Intuition include INFPs–not asking questions, working with numbers, working silently, sticking with the process on their own until something made sense…

  13. I love this video so much. Its really sad that there are so many kids who end up failing and hating math simply because their teacher/school/curriculum doesn't enable them to learn the material their way. I am really curious to see how learning disorders, such as dyscalculia and dyslexia, affect how the brain operates when doing math problems and other activities. 

  14. Interesting talk, and I'm sure many of the ways the kids approach learning will seem familiar. I'm worried about the application of the MBTI, however. What exactly is the evidence for it? Isn't there a danger of confirmatory bias? I understand the kids got an explanation of the types before they started working?

  15. Shouldn't INFPs be considered Extroverted Intuiters? The stacking of the function for an INFP is Introverted Feeling>Extroverted Intuition>Introverted Sensing>Extroverted Thinking

  16. I'm so glad you pointed out that the extraverted sensing students are over-represented in alternative schools. So true. Such a failure on the part of the US public education system.

  17. When asking why, ask why not?
    Let's try new idea's, can't be any worse than how it is now. Western education is deplorable but at least we still have something that resembles one.
    Cut backs in educational funding and governments not taking education seriously are a road block to any progress. Something needs to happen online to go over the system rather than go through it. Maybe, just maybe we will have a generation come through that will be able to be innovative enough to stop the choke hold of the suppression of technology by greedy corporations and people to the human race's proverbial nail in the coffin. It's not global warming, an ice age or sky Gods that will kill us off. It is our inability to understand that no one group can lord over another with impunity. The untouchable corporations, families of extreme wealth shall parish just like everyone else when the last tree falls. Where are all the innovative people to solve our problems? Oh, I guess we snuffed them out because they were a threat! Yabbadabbado. Back to the stone age but this time we have plastic and prehensile tails. Thank you nuclear industry. Maybe it won't be so bad. Maybe having a third tit won't be so useless after all. Maybe I could get a better deal at a Firestone…the new inventor of the wheel. It's not like I could hitch a ride by sticking out a furry leg, after all, the razor hasn't been invented yet. Not having toilet paper will be a real drag too. To parish or live a crusty existence. World you'd better figure it out quick.

  18. Maaaaaaaaaan it'd be nice if education in the U.S. was more considerate about how people learn differently. Sometimes I wonder if I'd do better in math if I could just have more time to really understand it. My math class takes new notes every single day and I'm expected to remember all that for the standardized tests without being given the time to properly digest and understand that information? But also math is pretty much the least interesting class for me because it's just a bunch of numbers. I mean, I understand that it does great things in the world around us with architecture and I can appreciate that but it just doesn't get me excited to learn about.

  19. As a consistent INFP or FiNeSiTe for Jungian, it's not surprising to see the absolute 0 score for the intervention lol. Grade 3 I didn't know number patterns (eg 5,10,15) because, just as you exactly said, I was more interested in looking out the window and my teacher had to address my daydreaming to my parents. Contradictory to that, I am currently a uni student going for Music and Computer Science and one of my favourite subjects is discrete mathematics which involves number patterns. I think it has to do with the subject being aligned with the "Christmas Tree" form of thinking on extroverted intuition. As de-linear thinking may be my preference, it works with trying to prove discrete math statements since there is no single procedure to approach them and the more angles of looking at the problems I see ( such as the girl who used fraction equations and grids greater than required) than the more fortified is my understanding of the abstract concepts, and I'm incentivized to play around with the ideas x)

  20. Somethings presented in this video are potentially confusing but definitely calls for more attention.

    1. It was not at all clear if the Introverted Intuitives & Extroverted intuitives were referring to the INxx & ENxx types or Ni function and Ne function. The presenter's answers in the comment section are also confusing. The presenter commented she was referring to INxx & ENxx in one comment and Ni & Ne in another comment – lowering the credibility of herself and the whole study.
    2. The sample of "the interventions" section is quite questionable. The sample was way too small and was not at all representative of the 16 types. There were only two intuitive students on that chart, rest being mostly SJs, yet the presenter said that these students were divided into two groups (intuitives vs sensing) to do certain task which would have been two students vs nine students. The colors on the table are also questionable as they show no relationship with the numbers. This section also lowers the credibility of the entire presentation.
    3. I apologize if I sound critical. I think this study is onto something and is definitely worth more attention. This study brings up an issue that every teacher should at least be aware of even if the applicability of the this theory will be questioned by the majority and actual application of this might potentially lead to some discrimination according to type. It will at least help the teachers withhold haste judgments about the students' ability and intelligence, and provide some insights on how to work with these students who are different.
    4. I am an INFP and I feel like I basically learned nothing in school until I went into the university. I mostly day-dreamed my entire primary and secondary school years.

  21. Thank you for finally hearing my voice being called out to what i thought was soulless fog swirling around me! My fights with teachers have finally paid off!

  22. Some of her stories about the math students clearly reminded me of math class in school where all of the sensing kids made all these comments haha

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