My desk in the new upstairs office I’m slowly creating is the mahogany dining room table I knew as a child. When I sat at it then, it was in the center of the room, and my focus was on what was on it. When I sit at it now, I’m at eye level with the branches of a massive dogwood tree outside the window and my attention is often drawn to what I can see outside. Today there is a squirrel in that dogwood tree whose “dining room table” has almost certainly been my yard for generations of his family. And now we’ve made eye contact and surprised each other, me looking out, him looking in.
I think my old mahogany table/desk is to me what that dogwood tree is to him. Both vantage places offer the security of the familiar, and allow us to feel emboldened to pause and study things we’ll never get to physically explore because they’re too foreign, too dangerous, too far away in distance or time, or simply incomprehensible to us. The squirrel has no understanding of my desk, and never will, and I can’t climb to the top of a tree, and never will; but unlike him, my ultimate exploration will be a “forever” instead of a “never.” The Bible says,”Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for him.” Someday, the secure support of the old and familiar won’t be needed anymore, and as much as I enjoy it now, I won’t mind at all!
People commonly speak of “wearing different hats,” indicating playing different roles in different contexts. I might describe myself as a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, pianist, retiree, gardener, artist, singer, author, or writer, depending upon what I was doing at the time. My business card says “Research and Writing Consultant.”
Many years ago, I collaborated with someone who had a doctorate in history to write a high school US history textbook for a major publisher. He resigned from the project before it was finished, and the senior editor combined that man’s contribution and mine, and added a great deal of her own, and published the book with no authors, just herself as editor. I felt slighted at the time, but she was right–for that book, I was a researcher, not the writer. Later, personal experience articles I wrote were published in Guideposts and elsewhere with my tag line, and academic articles were published online and in professional journals; but none of the six or eight books I’ve written has been published–yet. 🙂
I don’t know, and I don’t know if it matters. I just need to make sure I show up with the right hat at the right place. At 11:27 last night, I sent off a 99,968-word manuscript of a novel I wrote, to be considered by a publisher. At that moment, I felt very much I should go out and get a hot fudge sundae and wear my author’s hat.
But today is Mother’s Day, and I’m happily calling myself a mom. Get out the biggest hat!
What are you doing when you “wear your biggest hat”?
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?
(To be continued in the next post.)
A sunny day in the 70s in February in the Midwest delivers a mixed message: it defies knowledge of what winter is supposed to look like based on experience, yet it confirms the expectation that spring must come. When the dogwood is dressed in deep pink in the spring, green in the summer, or red in the fall, it is beautiful in the moment–but in the winter its bare branches are all about promise and expectation. God gives us some sunny winter days in our lives for that, too.
This photo of my husband and a few of his llamas made me think of what happens when I post online. He planned a trip to the Colorado Rockies on which he and some of our adult children would lead the llamas. Highly intelligent and always interested in new things, the llamas would carry light backpacks containing tents and other necessities, and the people would lead them safely along mountain trails. They’d all trek and camp in clear, clean air, alongside gurgling mountain streams, surrounded by breathtaking backdrops. It would be nothing like some had ever experienced before, here in the Midwest.
But first, our kids had to meet him in Colorado, and the llamas had to trust him enough to step into his trailer. The kids already knew they could trust their dad to deliver what was promised, and the llamas had no reason not to; but this was all new to them. The first one is strenuously resisting, the others have taken a “wait and see” attitude. My readers have to trust me a little, too–enough to start reading my posts. I don’t get to pull them in with a lead rope–I have to draw them in from the first line, before anyone is “in the trailer” except me, then make sure the “ride” to where we’re going is worth taking, so we can share the experience. That’s the plan!