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Tuesday 6 December 2011

Xylem and Phloem

Eldest daughter went for her interview for 6th form at the Perse on Saturday afternoon.  We are not entirely sure it went well after a discussion about Xylem. She has always been slightly dyslexic, so has had to concentrate really hard on spelling.  This means that her pronunciation can sometimes be a little erratic.  Thus saying Xylem out loud, without knowing you pronounce an X as a Z made for a little confusion.

This lead me on to the difference between reading something and hearing it.  I have never had any imagination.  I did not "get" the whole Harry Potter thing until I saw the first film.  I was then able to whisk through the rest of the books, as I had a clear visual picture of what Hogwarts looked like.  I passed all my exams by being able to visualise my notes.  However, I have never managed to "see" things after reading descriptive passages in books.

I suspect this is why hypnotism to help me give up smoking didn't work.  All that asking me to visualise numbers going backwards left me totally cold.  I have never been able to count sheep, when unable to sleep either.    Perhaps, this puts me on the Aspergers spectrum?  However, having done the AQ test, I got a very low score.  I only know one other person who scored lower than me - the wonderful mum of my friend, C.

We have had many discussions about Janet Treasure's Skills Based Learning  on the Forum.  I found the book rather dry and wordy when I first read it.  I didn't really get it and it all seemed either too technical or too trite - all those animal analogies distressed me, as I was a bit of everything, except ostrich!  However, once I had met Prof T and discovered what a wonderfully warm, kind and funny woman she is, the whole book suddenly became alive for me. When she explains the sciencey bits, she does so without condescension and she can encapsulate an animal by a facial expression.

I am not complaining about my inability to imagine backdrops to great literary works.  Life without visualising Mansfield Park has not been particularly hampered.  You see, I can say Xylem, as well as spell it.  However, I have no idea what it is.....


  1. Ooh, that's a trait I share with you Charlotte! I find it impossible to visualise things and often feel like I am totally lacking imagination, although I'm quite artistic, weirdly - I used to paint and I am still very interested in photography. But visualising things just doesn't work, particularly the appearance of characters and places in books, directions, words (when trying to spell them out loud to people) and numbers. I used to study physics and found that I was a natural mathematician when it came to the degree-level stuff, but I can't do mental arithmatic because I can't hang on to the image of the numbers I'm supposed to be using. It's infuriating sometimes. I score very highly on the AQ test though, somewhere between 30-40 depending on my mood and stress levels - but then I also get perfect scores on the Eye Test which people with ASCs are supposed to be unable to do. I guess I'm just neurologically weird. Well, I knew that already.

  2. Mansfield Park looks the same as Netherfield Park and neither are as dark as Thornfield or Northanger Abbey. Does that help?

  3. Sarah Mountford06 December, 2011

    Xylem and Phloem - heavens, you've transported me right back to the Malvern Girls' College Biology lab aka 1985 .... spooky, And whatever it was I was visualising at the time, I'm quite sure it wasn't molecular plant structure!

  4. Umm, I score 43 on AQ... My brother has a similar score. My mother scores 8 and gave birth to two prize nerds :D