As may be expected of a blog, it is an ongoing affair. For the moment, we publish here three types of texts that suit the definition of a blog.
- in English: texts that Touché and Guy post with a certain regularity at LinkedIn.
- in Portuguese: contributions of Touché to our company website on LinkedIn, and some of her older posts on Brasil com Z, a blog by expat Brazilians about the countries they emigrated to. The cooperation stopped some time ago, but Touché's texts are still interesting.
- in Portuguese, Dutch, English and even French: whenever we travel, we send newsletters to friends in several countries. At first, these messages appeared only in Portuguese, later a Dutch version was added, and in 2016 we were crazy enough to add a French and an English newsletter during our stays in New Zealand/Australia and Costa Rica. We will progressively post some of these travelogues, going back in time.
Note: the latest post is at the top. Use the menu at left or scroll down for older messages.
Touché at LinkedIn in 2023-1
In times when so many new ways of learning are subject of discussion due to technologies like ChatGPT maybe we should try to have a better understanding about these two learning disorders which so far can not be avoided by the use of AI or any other resource. No matter how we use the computer we still need to be able to use our brains... (at least for the time being) what means being able to identify, accept and adapt our personal limits to avoid becoming frustrated and demotivated when our human intelligence does not reach the ideal efficiency. Accessibility to internet is not – yet – a worldwide fact and it is natural that we would like to perform well in different fields of knowledge even if just at basic levels.
All through History the abilities to calculate and read/write have been of crucial importance in any culture and the development of those was highly dependent on the existence of codes to translate ideas, emotions and projects. Smoke signs, carvings, drawings, alphabets, no matter when and where people always needed and valued those who knew how to communicate and lead communities to new activities and discoveries that would contribute to better ways of living. Of course power has been linked to the possession of knowledge and in order to exercise power kings and rulers of all times need to have experts in diverse areas around them. Sometimes wisdom and knowledge come together. Not necessarily, but it may happen.
However even if education has been – and still is – privilege of minorities, it is certain that despite social advantages children all over the world have been facing difficulties through their learning process without counting on support from teachers and family. The general ignorance about problems related to reading and writing as well as arithmetic and basic notions of mathematics in many cases led to discrimination causing moral pain and social exclusion that impacted and blocked the future of many kids.
Over time scientists and researchers started to study these disorders, identifying and assessing causes and consequences. Dyslexia was clinically described by the physician Oswald Berkhan in 1881 and just two years later the term was coined by the ophthalmologist Rudolf Berlin, both German scientists. But Dyscalculia took much longer to be recognized by researchers and the term was only coined in the 1940´s and waited until 1974 to be completely recognized by the work of the Czechoslovakian Ladislav Kosc. It seems strange that such a long time has passed between the identification and treatments of these two disorders as both are closely linked to learning difficulties.
Dyslexia: The British Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as "a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling" and is characterized by "difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed" (source: Wikipedia). Phonological awareness relates to the capacity to identify and remember sounds of diverse languages making oral communication possible. More and more special teaching methods have been introduced to offer educators the necessary support to work with dyslexic children at school-age. It may happen that these children move to adolescence and adulthood without having their problems solved in their early age so they will tend to read more slowly and perform worse in comparison to others without a learning difficulty during childhood.
Dyscalculia: Term created from the Greek prefix ´dys´ (´badly`) and ´calculia´ from the Latin ´calculare´ (´to calculate/count´), cognitive disabilities specific to mathematics were originally identified in case studies with patients who experienced these disabilities as a result of damage to specific regions of the brain.
In the same way individuals of diverse age groups experience difficulties to learn how to deal with letters, disabilities regarding manipulating numbers, performing mathematical calculations and learning facts in mathematics also exist since early school years and a countless number of children have suffered the same sort of social exclusion as those diagnosed with dyslexia.
Nowadays the term is often used to refer specifically to the inability to perform arithmetic operations, but is also defined by some educational professionals and cognitive psychologists as a more fundamental inability to conceptualize numbers as abstract concepts of comparative quantities (a deficit in ´number sense´). But not only: here some other symptoms already identified: delay of simple counting, inability to memorize simple arithmetic facts such as adding subtracting, etc, and some difficulties on a day-to-day basis, like struggling with directions due to reduced spatial orientation, low spatial awareness, difficulties reading maps and following directions and/or with controlling finances.
Taking into consideration that studies and findings about dyscalculia are recent, it is most probably that you or someone you know is dyscalculic and still unaware of it. Maybe we should try and exercise more patience with those who don´t know where they are, can´t find the right directions and are unable to control their expenses…? Who knows, maybe you are talking about (or with) intelligent people who happen to be innocent dyscalculics...?
Open to discussion.
There was a time when easy riding meant having the type of travel any adventure fan would love. Following the intuition, driving around unsuspected curves that led to surprises that might be a lovely village, a lake, a field full of flowers or relaxed cows.
Sometimes you had an objective, a place you wanted to see... but mostly it was just the fun of being on the roads, looking at exciting nature and clicking here and there in an attempt to freeze that beautiful view and keep it in a reliable memory outside ours, because our human memory is so limited... as we are.
Norway is one of the most generous countries for those who love this type of trips. Its strong and difficult geography demands an open mind and a high sense of curiosity. The intensity of the colors, the variety of the landscapes where dark rocks plunge into deep blue waters, the power of Mother Nature calling and offering indescribable emotions, this is a place to experience and learn about people who are not afraid of challenges. Living in such a hard environment they gave hands to each other and built a society for everyone, where all can live and not only survive.
Having known poverty, it was from nature that they became a rich country when they found oil in their soil. Oil brought access to comfort but did not erase their knowledge about how to build their own houses, to care for their animals, to plant and share their food. Vanity and idleness remained discarded, no show-off needed to prove the quality of their lives.
Once upon a time easy riding around Norway was one of the most exciting traveling experiences. Times have changed though...
The roads built between a wall of dark rocks and the abyss of seductive light waters are surely still there, waiting and calling. Close your eyes and go back, dive into memories and feel the adventure. Somewhere there is a tunnel waiting for you. Dare and drive through. Just dare.
There are so many tunnels in Norway! Not fancy works of engineering and fashion sparkling lights, radars, signs, all that grants you a kind of Disney fun. No. Besides the basic iron nets to avoid rocks from falling down, most of the time you will only experience that dark world. Norwegian tunnels are what a tunnel really is: a way to get somewhere by crossing through a mountain. A dark hole where you dive and hope there will be light soon. They say there is always light at the end of a tunnel... well you won’t take that for granted when you enter a Norwegian tunnel!
Among so many tunnels, there is one that means more than a passage from light to light. The Lærdal tunnel with its 24,5kms is an endurance test. It takes around 20 minutes at a regular speed (operating speed is 80) to cross it and during this ride you hear spooky noises that can be of heavy invisible trucks or just the voices of historical ghosts. Like spinning objects the sounds of strange machines warn you of unpredictable dangers. Keep driving. Hope the end of this dark moments will come soon. Twenty minutes or twenty years, it can also be twenty centuries... who knows?
The Lærdal tunnel is a symbolic representation of our times. Covid-19 threw our fragile means of transportation into a dark world where, like blind beings, we try to identify sounds and guess the right direction to the light. We are riding in the dark in solitude, sticking to our hope for light as a possibility to stay alive until our twenty minutes, days, years or something have passed.
In the meantime we are under the impact of driving inside the depths of a scary and unknown mountain and we know there is no turn to go back.
There is no return in the tunnel of life.
But we know light is there outside.