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Monday, 18 August 2014

A Door to a New World

 The image of a door that opens to a new world and/or a new reality appears often in literature.  We have the wardrobe's door in the Narnia books, the door into the Secret Garden and the platform 9 3/4 in the Harry Potter books, just to name a few.  The word door has this association for most people, and at times when we speak of something being "five doors away", it includes the entire house or room that the door leads into.  When you read or hear the word door, you may have in mind the concept of a physical door (swings open and closed, has a knob or handle by which it can be opened, is able to be locked or unlocked, may contain a window, strong, sturdy).  Some people, who are visual thinkers, picture specific doors they have encountered in their lives whenever this word comes up, and it plays in their brains "like Google images" [1].  One such person is a woman named Temple Grandin.

   Ms. Grandin was born in Boston in 1947 and at a young age was diagnosed with autism.  She began speaking later than most children and had difficulty interacting with others socially.  If we consider autism to be enigmatic today, multiply that several times in the 50's and 60's when she grew up.  Despite obstacles, Grandin graduated from high school and college, earning both a Master's Degree (1975) and a Doctorate in Animal Science (1989).
   Something depicted well in the HBO Film Temple Grandin was the way in which her high school science teacher helped her conceptualize her future in college.  Dr. Carlock said to her:
        "Think of it as a door.  A door that is going to open up onto a whole new world for you.  And all you
        need to do is decide to go through it."
Several times in the film, Temple Grandin needs to go through a scary door to get to the new world she will become part of--from the frightening automatic door at the grocery store that reminds her of a guillotine to the door of a slaughterhouse she will ultimately redesign to be more humane and the cinematic door she walks through to speak publicly about autism at a national conference. 
   Temple Grandin is an individual who has been tremendously influential in the area of treatment of animals at slaughter facilities by using her visual mind and attention to detail.  As she heroically stepped through various doors, she also extended "the horizons of the possible" [2]  for many others.

[1] Temple Grandin. "The World Needs All Kinds of Minds" TED talk, 2010.
[2] Andy Crouch Culture Making (2008), pp. 17-36

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