Learning about the differences between right- and left-brain thinking at the conference I described in the last post changed my approach to teaching and parenting.
Experiments in the 80s indicated that the right brain takes on thinking tasks that don’t require words: touch, taste, and smell; art and music; time, space, and distance; mathematics. Right-brain thinkers are musicians and artists and visionaries. They invent things. They tend to view very left-brain dominant people as more rigid, unimaginative, and traditional than they need to be–but they accept them anyway.
The experiments indicated that the left brain deals with sequence, order, cause-and-effect, logic, and particularly words. The left brain likes to name things and organize the relationships between them. Left-brain thinkers are writers, teachers, leaders in situations in which following rules and order are valued. They tend to think that very right-brain dominant people are too disorganized, illogical, forgetful, and easy-going.
In the photo below, left brainers probably prefer the wallpaper background with a pattern of identical designs in straight rows. Right brainers probably prefer the random colors, sizes, and arrangement in the tile sample from Lowe’s. What’s your preference?
Now–Imagine a parent or teacher that is a very dominantly right- or left-brain thinker dealing with a child, student, or colleague who is just as strongly the other. Is a situation like that coming to mind? Tell me about it!I’ll tell you about some of mine in the next post.
Many years ago one speaker at a teachers’ conference changed my life. I learned that people tend to think in styles that were initially termed “right brain” and “left brain.” She said that by acknowledging and taking advantage of those tendencies, teachers can help students learn.
The speaker asked for a volunteer, then handed her a book and asked her to read aloud from it. The teacher tried, but she struggled. Then the speaker took the book, turned it upside down, returned it to the woman, and asked her to read aloud from it that way. The volunteer drew back and frowned, but she started reading, upside down–and fluently.
The speaker explained that a dominantly left-brain thinker naturally moves her eyes from left to right. A dominantly right-brain thinker finds it easier to move them from right to left. For a very right-brain-dominant thinker, the right-to-left preference is so strong that reading from right to left can be easier than the normal way, even if the words are upside down. God did not “hard wire” all our brains alike.
Due to great advances in medical science, the ’90s were termed the “decade of the brain,” and a lot more was learned about how we think than the initial, simplified “right and left brain” designations indicated; but that demonstration at the conference was the beginning of my quest to learn more about how people think and learn. I earned a master’s in educational leadership: curriculum and supervision. I earned a doctorate in teaching and learning; conducted formal research studies and published them, and taught. I also discovered that applying the principles of how we prefer to think and learn can help parents be more effective, workers more collaborative, relationships be more peaceable, and any of us be more willing to accept our own uniqueness.
Do you know what your thinking/learning preference is?