Left Or Right Brain? How Discovering Your Child’s Learning Style Can Help You Help Them
Your child is a left-brain; he’s got a logical mind, he understands numbers and sequence, that’s why he’s so good with mathematics and sciences. My daughter is no good at mathematics, but she’s a right-brain, she’s creative and imaginative.
Is it correct to label our children based on common beliefs? Left-brain and right-brain, there is so much more to it than aptitudes towards the science or the arts.
Karl Lashley was the first neuropsychologist to map the human brain, especially those areas of the brain responsible for specific functions and to research the way people study and learn new facts. Based on his initial findings, further studies have established that the left hemisphere is in charge of language (vocabulary), memorizing and recalling, following instructions. The right hemisphere is in charge with visualization, imagining, comparison, as well as comprehension and interpretation.
The right-side, left-side dominance becomes evident from an early age. The older we become, the more evident it is, except that grown-ups also learn to compensate and, if they are lucky, they will choose a career path that aligns with their dominant hemisphere.
On a school level, the situation is different. There is no choice, thinker or dreamer, they are all crammed in the same classroom, following the same curriculum. And the curriculum seems to favour the left-brain students.
Left-brain academic subjects focus on logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy.
Right-brained subjects focus on aesthetics, emotions, and creativity.
Until the day that the education department will embrace and support this natural, dual way of thinking it lies in our hands as parents to support our children.
Often right-brain students will appear as under-achievers as the educational curriculum might not be challenging enough for the way their brain is wired to think.
Mathematics and science require the learning and use of formulas, of a specific sequence of facts. Languages and Social Sciences require students to memorize vocabulary and grammar rules as well as lists of facts and numerous dates. Furthermore, mathematics or maths literacy are listed among the compulsory subjects required for all degrees offered by the Faculty of Law, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Humanities or Faculty of Theology.
Wonderful news for left-brain pupils, but what about the right-brain ones? The dreamers and the thinkers that see the big picture, yet tend to struggle remembering small details? The David Karp (founder of Tumbler), Evan Williams (Blogger creator and former Twitter CEO) or Simon Cowell (Britain’s Got Talent)?
These right-brain dominant students, although just as gifted and as clever as their left-brain fellows, are often seen as under-achievers because they struggle to remember a formula or a historical date. Few right-brain pupils might just be able to expand their natural brain functioning, thus over-compensating the restraints of their brain design — by applying themselves to the extreme.
It is important to understand that a pupil’s cerebral inclination will play a role not only in the type of information he or she is more likely to absorb but also in the way he or she will best absorb that information.
Although left-brain students can absorb the details and the numbers, they might struggle to step back and “get” the big picture. These students may need to know from the beginning what is the end goal, what is expected of them before the study process even begins.
Right-brain pupils benefit from the use of images and colours when studying. Using simple drawings when learning is highly beneficial as it involves their dominant right-brain, the creative hemisphere in the process, thus supporting their left-brain.
Until the day that the education department will embrace and support this natural, dual way of thinking it lies in our hands as parents to understand our children’s hemispheric dominance and distinctive brain wiring and to support them, as all children are gifted and unique, whole individuals.
Curious about your brain dominance? Take the hemispheric dominance test.
This article was first published on the Huffington Post SA on 14 November 2017.
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