|Brick masonry patterns|
Tim drew on this mental tendency in order to introduce scientific classification. In November, after reading about the classifications and the organisms in each category, N. copied out lists of the 5 Kingdoms of Organisms and the Classes of Animals and invented little accompanying illustrations, as you can see here.
"But my talent for doing correctly the small things that constitute the glorious whole was defective -- I never mastered first principles -- and so the finished product, while perhaps impressive to the untutored, was always mediocre to the knowledged. To how many of my youthful achievements does this not apply! I dazzled old ladies at piano recitals, but never really mastered the scales; won the tennis championships of my high school -- a school indifferent to tennis -- but never really mastered the strokes; graduated first in my class, but never really learned to think." [The Floating Opera by John Barth]
We try throughout our life as a family to emphasize that process trumps product, that it is infinitely more important to learn to think than to graduate first in your class. At the same time, the product of one's thinking is of course going to be much better if you've mastered the process.