Organize finder without using the Arrange symbol?

Ok, i don't use mountain lion very often, but when i do and when i use the finder, i can no longer use the finder to find things as easily as in all previous incarnations. the finder is dead set on one specific view, i can only change the arrangment by using a symbol with the word arrangment on it. this is a very disturbing multistep process and makes finding specific items on the computer a near impossibility. I must confess ignorance as to why the finder works properly for some folders, but not for others.
more importantly, i cannot describe to my wife how to find things by rearranging the view order on an icon in a different section of the computer screen than from where she is looking if she is in one of the folders lacking this basic functionality.
Is there a way to restore computer functionality by making the bar above the files clickable evrywhere for all folders?
I fail to see the logic of making the finder so difficult to operate. Am i to be encouraged to seek out some third party application to restore one of the most basic organizational resources or is this a bug specific to something wrong with the computer?

the arrangment is whatever i choose under a far separate icon in the finder window named arrange. clicking on the finder bar column itself does not allow the same accessible changes to happen. it is difficult to discertain which folders this affects, the applications folder definetly, there are several other folders which now seem hidden altogether.

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