A Principle of Diagrams and Tables
When we look at the text books all around, we can easily find expressions which say something like "a lot of diagrams and visualized information will make your learning easy and fun".
But, is it really true that visual information like diagrams and tables makes our learning much easy?
Today, I'd like to think about the beliefs pertaining to visual information like diagrams and tables.
Usually, the main way employed by human beings to transmit information is language.
For, by making ideas held in mind into language, one can share the language, and by sharing the language, one can share the ideas held in mind.
Though a language can be transmitted through both letters and sound, letters are used, as is general in publishing, for the literary work.
It can be said that letters are utilized when transmitting information through the abilities of language among people.
Diagrams and tables are on the other side of the letters.
Sharing ideas directly through visualized information held in human mind is a transmission through diagrams, and sharing ideas through orderly information pulled together from ideas in human mind is a transmission through tables.
It can be said that diagrams and tables, which appeal to the vision, transmit information through the abilities of direct perception among people.
Transmitting information through diagrams and tables has dynamism the way through letters doesn't have. And it also seems that the word "Visual" sounds really intriguing to people who believe themselves to be bad at reading literature.
For people to understand the written language, there inevitably comes the internal process of converting letters into ideas after recognizing letters.
On the other hand, to understand diagrams and tables, that internal process isn't needed and people directly recognize ideas.
Converting letters into ideas, when one reads the text, naturally takes time. And the fact that it takes people time to read makes it possible to naturally let the thought dwell on the subject.
And dwelling on a subject is very convenient for understanding the subject; for human mind, when the thought dwells on a subject, naturally finds some significance and order and starts to understand about it, because of the natural tendency of human mind to try to understand what is significant and orderly.
On the other hand, recognizing diagrams and tables doesn't take time.
So diagrams and tables can convey ideas instantly; but to convey ideas instantly also means that one cannot let the thought dwell on the subject either; and without thought dwelling on the subject, one cannot utilize the innate nature of human mind to try to understand things.
As long as ideas are conveyed instantly, diagrams and tables are powerful tools. But in the case ideas didn't get conveyed instantly, diagrams and tables are impotent at making human mind dwell upon the subject and won't encourage natural understanding.
It can be said that the characteristics of diagrams and tables to convey ideas instantly have both a positive side and a negative side.
Language, or logic based on language, is a form of line.
Language and logic are to proceed from the past to the future, and that flow from the past to the future is what conveys ideas.
On the other hand, diagrams and tables are a form of square, represented in the present in the two-dimensional world.
Diagrams and tables have two axes, vertical and horizontal, and visual beauty is what conveys many ideas instantly.
As a nature, logic is good at processing one piece of information at a time, while bad at processing multiple pieces of information simultaneously.
Whereas, vision is good at processing multiple pieces of information at a time, though it cannot produce logic, which has an element of time.
When one wants to understand new information logically, diagrams and tables are much useless; for they don't have a means to present logic in the frame of time flowing from the past to the future.
It's guidance through language that helps when one trys to understand new information logically.
When language presents a new piece of information one by one through a flow of logic, one is able to understand new information easily.
But logic through language has a weakness.
That is, it cannot present much information simultaneously.
So, in order to put together old information that had already been understood logically, diagrams and tables are effective; for diagrams and tables process much information simultaneously, while logic doesn't.
Thinking logically through language can only process a piece of information at a time through a one-dimensional line, thus always tagged along by an element of time.
But diagrams and tables can process much information simultaneously and instantly through a two-dimensional square, thus they can hold information in the present, not being affected by an element of time, which is also good for instant and thorough understanding and memorization.
For the people who have already understood, diagrams, which cover the principle ideas, and tables, which present orderly information, will do the work.
But for the people who are now trying to understand, the fixation of thought on the subject, which is the natural result of the internal language activity initiated by information that flows from the past to the future on the line of logic, is needed.
Professors and teachers who are in a position of writing books and textbooks are always in the position of having already understood; thus, they are liable to be satisfied with only showing diagrams and tables, which can hold much information and thus easy to understand for the people who have already understood logically.
But students, who are now learning, are always in the position of trying to understand; and, thus, they cannot understand easily only with diagrams and tables, which hold much information and thus confuse the people who haven't understood logically before.
Of course, it's not absolutely impossible for students to understand from diagrams and tables: By converting information running both vertically and horizontally into a one-way logic, and by making hard efforts to make the thought dwell on the subject, it becomes possible to logically understand from diagrams and tables.
But, to do so takes a one-way logic to process and analyze massive amount of information, and requests one to force the thought to concentrate on the subject; and also, this requires students to generate energy by himself and is more difficult than to be led with guidance taking advantage of naturally consuming energy, which naturally happens when understanding things.
One who is in a position of writing books and textbooks should seek to present information through a line of logic: Caring about orders, and without making a logical leap, one is demanded to present a new piece of information one by one.
And guidance through language is needed to make the thought of students dwell on the subject, letting the students naturally contemplate and understand.
But, how are the textbooks on the market?
Aren't there a lot of textbooks feeling satisfied with berief sentences only stating the principle ideas, or diagrams and tables, and thinking "I did a good job"?
Visual information like diagrams and tables are not for the people who are trying to learn a new thing; they are for the people who already have the individual pieces of knowledge and want to organize and straight them up.
To acquire a new idea, logical guidance through language is appreciated.
Through time flowing from the past to the future, with language having diverse notions, and the mind thinking logically, incorporating a new piece of information into the current knowledge and putting the pieces together one by one is the easy way to learn, and because of such easiness, it is the way we must take.
Moreover, diagrams and tables cannot tell a variety of ideas in the first place, without even referring to a logic flowing with time.
In most cases, diagrams can only show positions and relations of objects using arrows and likes, and tables can only show crossing points of two objects.
Compared to a wide variety of ideas and logics found in language, diagrams and tables can only tell a very tiny number of ideas and logics.
With that being said, however, when, for instance, one wants to tell visual information, like positions and relations of two objects, diagrams and tables have advantages.
For, due to the visual nature of visual information like positioning, it's better to transmit information through a visual means from the beginning, than to convert visual information into letters and transmit them and, after transmission of letters, convert them to retrieve visual information.
Still, even if it was about positioning, if one seeks to tell a flow of time, or a logical sequence of happenings underlying positioning, then, the matter is another to discuss.
For, in that case, to tell the sequence through language in the frame of time would be a better choice.
What is important about books and text books is if pieces of information are constructed one by one based on a firm and sound logic.
In books and textbooks, diagrams and tables are yet a complementary element, and cannot possibly become the primary element.
For, with only visual information like diagrams and tables, the idea that something flows from the past to the future cannot be represented, and thus logic, which flows from the past to the future, cannot be represented.
And if logic cannot be represented, knowledge, which grows from simple knowledge to intricate knowledge, cannot be represented; and the knowledge being failed to be passed on is the result.
There is no need anywhere for us to be afraid of literature.
Systematic knowledge presented through language with proper logic is simply beautiful and divinely shining.
Sure, it may be true that some not-so-smart writers of books and textbooks can be found in the world; but it would be unwise to label books as "uninvited" judging from those whose logic is paralyzed.
Do not lose your faith until you find a teacher who gives out knowledge with decent logic.
As your search for that single system of beautiful logic ends with joy, the door to the knowledge shall be opened unto you.