The mind is an endless space of possibilities that people usually take for granted. But this was definitely not the case for Temple Grandin. Despite her learning disability, Temple discovered her own exceptional way of thinking. The movie shows us all the different examples in which Temple uses her unique mind for the better. By describing Temple’s appearance and persona, we can try to better understand how looks and character of a person won’t change their intellect. Through discussion of her distinctive ways of learning, I will be able to relate them to my own learning styles which are similar to Temple’s.
The movie “Temple Grandin,” begins with Temple on her way to visit her aunt for the summer where she will be working with the horses and cows in their ranch. Since the beginning, the film had been showing Temple’s interest in animals. While observing the ranch, she notices a machine that hugs the cows and calms their nerves. Then, one day Temple had a panic attack; Temple thinks of the “hugging device” and places herself in the machine.
To her surprise, it instantly calms her. Since she was young, she always felt uncomfortable with any human contact, including her own mother’s touch and affection. From there on out, the device substitutes as a human “hug” for Temple. After that summer, It was time for Temple to go to college, in which she hesitantly and nervously agreed to her mother’s request. When Temple arrived at her dorm, she had another panic attack. Her mother immediately knew that she had to give her some space and so she went outside. A recollection appeared, revealing Temple’s diagnosis of autism when she was younger. During the diagnosis at the doctor’s office, the mother was in disbelief when the doctor explained that it was her cold and distant actions towards Temple which caused her to be this way.
The doctor also suggested placing Temple in a mental institution, which enraged the mother even more and decided to take care of Temple herself which led to where they were now. Temple decided to stay in college despite her anxiety. She remembers the device that calmed her back at the ranch and decided to build one for herself. With the machine at hand, Temple was able to cope with the stresses of college life. Even with all the benefits it gave Temple, the school forced her to get rid of it. For some reason, the school board thought it was used for a sexual purpose. After a short break from school, her aunt decided to help her persuade the school to let her keep the machine. To prove the real usage of her machine, Temple surveyed several students.
She asked them to try out the machine and tell her how they felt using it. Temple did eventually prove that the machine was and is only used for personal calming purposes; the school then allowed her to keep it in her dorm. With that, Temple is now able to function well in school. Afterward, the film shows Temple’s old high school where she didn’t really seem to fit in. Just when most of the teachers felt hopeless for Temple, a teacher named Dr. Carlock saw something in Temple and decided to help her. Little by little, Dr. Carlock discovers Temple’s unique abilities and notices her strong interest in science. With encouragement from Dr. Carlock and her family, Temple finally graduated from college and started working at a ranch. She notices all the pros and cons of the ranch’s current routine working with the cattle.
With Temple’s unique mind, she tries to change the slaughterhouse so that it would be more efficient and humane. During her efforts in doing so, she receives several gender discriminations from her fellow ranchers. Such as banning her from the ranch, spoiling her vehicle with cattle meat, and even just ignoring her altogether. But, with her strong will, she chose to ignore these nuisances and kept trying until someone notices. Some men finally studied her plans and considered her intentions. All her efforts paid off when they built one of her blueprints and tried it with the cattle.
The success of the experiment opened up more opportunities to her, like being in a well-known local magazine and soon, being known in the whole ranch/cattle world as well. By the end of the movie, Temple and her mother attends a gathering of all the people who are affected by autism. Temple tells people how she overcame her own difficulties with school and with life in general. Everyone was so amazed by her situation that they coached her into talking in front of the whole audience.
Temple Grandin is definitely not just your average cowgirl. She certainly shows a higher way of thinking than most of us could even imagine. Striking people with her average appearance, nobody would even have a clue of what her mind is really capable of. Temple has thick, curly, reddish-brown hair which goes fine with her well-structured and all American facial structure. She is also average in height, which might be between the lines of 5’3 to 5’6. As far as clothing goes, Temple has her own interesting sense of style.
She definitely carries the cowboy shirt, tie, and a pair of the typical blue jeans very well. This regular outfit of hers definitely goes with her relaxed and cowboy persona; this ended up being her signature look as well. Temple is a very sweet and well-mannered girl. Although, she did not like being touched, even by her own mother, she shows how she cares for others by talking in her relaxed and reassuring tone. Another admiring trait that she has is her strong sense of will. She trained herself to be good at something and worked really hard at it. Her goal is to sell her work, rather than selling herself. Temple’s imaginative and detail-oriented mind allowed her to think of things other people would not.
Being a visual thinker that she is, she sorts things into different specific categories, so this allows her to see each and every detail that would and would not work logically for a specific system. An example of this would be the times in the movie where she tries to feel and experience what cattle are going through. One amazing power that Temple’s mind possesses is the ability to remember every single detail of every single thing she encounters every single day. Basically, Temple doesn’t think how most of us usually do; we mostly overgeneralize, which is thinking top to bottom. Temple, on the other hand, thinks from the bottom to the top. Temple Grandin’s appearance never hindered her descriptive ability when it comes to learning and working with animals. A descriptive portrayal of a person, in this case, of Temple Grandin, can never outweigh a person’s capabilities and outlook of his/her life.
The themes of the movie are very distinct. Since the beginning of the film, we notice Temple’s anxieties from one thing to another. Starting with her fear of new places and situations, such as the time when she first got to her aunt’s ranch, the first time she got to her college dorm, and opening doors to new and unfamiliar places. Fear is a big part of Temple’s story because it shows the different ways she overcame them. At first, she thought of change negatively. She assumed that new things would inflict more stress and anxiety in her.
Due to this, she created the “hugging machine” that she once observed being used in her aunt’s ranch. Meeting Dr. Carlock dramatically changed Temple’s view of new things. He taught her that every door opens to new opportunities and that she just had to go through them. Ever since then, Temple built up all the courage she could gain and did as
she was told. As a result, she went through a number of doors which led her to amazing opportunities such as meeting people who had connections to slaughterhouse owners and the beginning of her long-awaited future. Another factor that led Temple to endure and overcome her fears is the amount of perseverance she had within her.
Her determination to get things done is unbelievable. It almost seemed like giving up was never the choice for Temple. Even at times, where she didn’t have a choice she made ways. For instance, Temple was cruelly discriminated for being a female working in a “male environment” by spoiling her truck with bull testicles and eventually banning her from entering the ranch. However, with Temple’s brilliant mind she came up with the best ideas to make the ranch allow her back in. She observed all the people that were allowed in that particular ranch and noticed that they only permitted the stereotypical “ranch men” and “special personnel” to come inside.
With that in mind, she traded her car with a pickup truck, in which she purposely ruined, changed her wardrobe into a more male-friendly style and convinced the local newspaper to give her a badge. To her surprise, the ranch let her in without the slightest suspicion that she was actually a female. Another example would be the time where she needed a blueprint made, but the draftsman was very busy and she didn’t have time to wait. As determined as she was, Temple knew what her mind can do so she observed the draftsman working on other blueprints. She watched closely as he carefully drew them with great precision. Soon after that, she found herself making her own blueprints accurately enough that later on, a meeting of slaughterhouse officials gathered around her self-made blueprints and were practically stunned with what she had in store for them. Temple’s ways of overcoming her fears and willpower despite her autism only broadened my admiration for her.
With her unique way of thinking, Temple discovered a new way of learning despite her condition. She discovered that visual thinking is what works best for her. Thinking of my own learning experiences, I realized that Temple and I have a number of similarities when it comes to learning. For me, I always knew that visual learning is the most effective way, as well. Since I was young, colors and movement catches my attention every time; while reading and listening always seemed to bore me after a certain amount of time. This is probably why English isn’t really my forte. Among my family, I am known to be the crafty and creative one. I noticed that I think well when it involves something visual. When participating in presentations, projects, and experiments, I always go over a little more than what is really needed because for some reason it helps me learn the material in more depth. The proof is all in my report card; my grades soared when it came to art and sciences.
The diagrams and examples that were given are the ones that always get stuck in my head. I am also a very keen observer. I am one of those students who stand to the side and just watch. So it when comes to me trying it for myself, I get it done. Connecting my experience to Temple’s, I remember the time when I was younger and very curious about computers. My parents didn’t want to teach me how to use them because they thought I was too young. But as I watched my dad use the computer, I noticed all the buttons he pressed and the functions they served. Until one day, I decided that it was time for me to get my hands on the machine. My dad told me that I knew exactly what button to press to turn it on and where to move the mouse to get to the games. Temple’s abilities will never be close to what I am able to do with my mind. But our similarities of being visual learners made me realize that being unique with your own learning style would be best.
Also, the weaknesses that you possess shouldn’t hold you back from achieving your plans and goals. The mind is the most powerful weapon a human possesses. Despite Temple Grandin’s learning disability, she learned a different way to make her mind work wonders by thinking in more visual terms rather than thinking logically. Seeing how Temple uses this technique for the better during the film, I realize that my own learning technique is very similar to hers. Temple’s rather average, yet unique persona allowed her to be known as an individual full of hope and perseverance for a lot of people today, including myself. Temple established the idea of self-perseverance and almost suggests the small power of generalized gender roles in society. As of today, she continues her influence in our world in terms of animal treatments and in the world of autism.
Courtney from Study Moose
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