"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Learning Styles vs. Hemispheric Dominance (Part 2 of a 3 Part Post)

This is a continuation of my previous post on "Learning Styles vs. Hemispheric Dominance (3 Part Post)"

There are two ways you can address learning styles – looking at classic “learning styles” as defined by these books: Discover Your Child's Learning Style by Mariaemma Willis or Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong  which includes learning modalities and personal interaction OR looking at whether a student is a left-brained learner or right-brained learner (hemispheric dominance).  See Teaching for theTwo Sided Mind by Linda Verlee Williams if you are interested in hemispheric dominance. 

I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of work looking at the latter the last year after spending many years learning about the former!  While learning styles are mostly about how we take in information (using both our preferred and auxiliary modes), hemispheric dominance is about how we process information once the information has been obtained.  Because we have a bi-lobal brain, we process all modalities on both sides of the brain.  However, we may process that information more on one side than the other.  So, it’s really a dance and we have to look at both.  Addressing one or the other may allow a child to make significant progress toward better learning and retention.  

How does that look teaching a subject like reading?  Right brain kids are better with a whole word approach (horror of horrors!) and left brain kids are better learning phonics.  However, because of the global and creative development coming first in a right brain child, they instead will focus and learn best on creative outlets (Legos, imaginative play) and a visual 3-D world (picture books with few words, creative outlets, subjects that can be primarily visual like Science, History, Geography and Social Studies). Left brain learners prefer symbolic and word development (2-D) and excel at reading, writing, arithmetic and spelling early on (ages 5-7).   Right brain children learn symbolic development at age 8-10, meaning they may not learn to read and do basic arithmetic at the same age as the left brain child.  However, because of our left brain centric world, they are looked upon as not as smart, having learning difficulties or somehow broken.  Left brain children develop their creative edge at ages 8-10 and begin to enjoy Social Studies and Geography.  By age 11, the left brain child starts to acquire global development and masters Science and History.  Right brain kids often aren’t able to fully grasp spelling and arithmetic well until age 11. 

On the whole, there is no difference in the IQ of someone who is left brain versus someone who is right brain.  However, school performance often tells a different story.  Schools and most homeschool curricula are designed for left brain learning and right brain learners suffer.  The left brain kids see success in a typical-school setting immediately – reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, memorization which can then be translated to those subjects not necessarily considered “core curriculum”.  Right brain kids learn so differently they often feel demoralized, while just as intelligent as the left brain kid, because they don’t learn in the same sequence.

 Leonid Ponomerev, In Quest of the Quantum:
"You can devote yourself completely to science [left brain] or live exclusively in your art [right brain]. Both points of view are equally valid, but, taken separately, are incomplete. The backbone of science is logic and experiment. The basis of art is intuition and insight. But the art of ballet requires mathematical accuracy and, as Pushkin wrote, Inspiration in geometry is just as necessary as in poetry.' They complement rather than contradict each other.  True science is akin to art, in the same way as real art always includes elements of science. They reflect different, complementary aspects of human experience and give us a complete idea of the world only when taken together...."

 I found this very interesting table that lays out the way the left and right brain work from Edudemic's website  Posted by Jeff Dunn - Executive Editor:

How we interact with left and right brain functions
Turns data from the external world into language. This requires sequential processing wherein data is processed one bit at a time. This is time consuming.* When I began typing this list out, I had to verbalize it in my mind and logically decide how best to present it here. Often, we can see in our mind what we want to say (right brain), but it can become difficult to put it down on paper (left brain).
Processes information very quickly as images or pictures:* When I started thinking about building this list, all that I know about left and right brain function flooded through my mind in microseconds in the form of images, experiences, music, feelings, etc. The chore is putting it in a form you can understand - that's where the left brain comes in!
Continuously dumps old information to make room for new.* Unless I "feel" or "see" in my mind what people ask me to do, I often forget the requests and need several reminders. (remember the saying, "In one ear and out the other"?)
Stores every memory*. Whatever you've experienced: Seen, smelled, felt, heard, tasted, etc. is stored in the cells of your brain, which can be accessed. It's a super-recorder that doesn't require conscious effort. Read this article for more.
Prefers study notes written line upon line of text.** Common note taking.
Likes a pictorial or diagrammatic format when taking notes during study.** Heard of mind maps? Learn a great accelerated learning method for taking notes. Click here for more info about mind maps.
Makes us think in logical ways. Take this quiz: You have a blue ball, red ball and yellow ball sitting in front you. You need to pick up two of them. But, if you pick up the blue ball, you can't pick up the red ball. If you pick up the red ball you can't pick up the yellow. So, which two balls can you pick up?
To solve this, you'll need to access your logical left brain functions.
Makes us think intuitively. A lady friend of mine was a passenger in a car traveling one a hot summer day with the windows down. She told me they pulled up to a stop sign and she immediately got the prompting to roll up her window. So she did, for no apparent logical reason. Just then a bunch of tomatoes came smashing against her window, thrown by some kids out of nowhere. They disappeared just as fast as they appeared. She was startled but soon realized what would have happened had she not acted on her intuition. Go here to find out more about how intuition works.
Is verbal. My wife's cousin has the gift of telling stories in great detail and can talk for hours on end. He has a solid grasp of left brain verbal communication skills - putting thoughts and experiences to speech in a logical sequence.
Is visual. I've had a few conversations with my friend's adolescent son. He's always had great difficulty talking in full sentences to describe anything but as I observe him, I can tell he clearly sees in his mind exactly what he's attempting to communicate. His verbal (left brain) skills are not developed. Ever seen someone staring off somewhere when talking? Ever been on a vacation in your mind?
Is rational. One night our son got sharp pains in his stomach that didn't seem to subside so we decided to take him to the hospital. I didn't feel panic or concern. My thinking was, "There's no use freaking out. That won't help him through the pain."(He turned out ok - only had some gas stuck in his intestines.)
Is non-rational. Adding to the story from the "rational" left brain column: My wife got very upset and concerned in seeing our son in so much pain. It seems her emotions took over and she couldn't calm down until we found out he was going to be fine. The right brain makes us "feel" and "intuit" situations and people but we need the balance of the left brain rational side to govern our emotions.
Is analytic. When I put together kit furniture, I have to follow the directions step-by-step and when I don't, I often have pieces left over that I forgot to insert in one of the steps.
Is synthetic. In the 1400's, Leonardo da Vinci saw in his mind whole new inventions like the helicopter and single span bridge, which he illustrated in detail. It was not until modern times that these marvels were built. Sci-fi writers have visionary right brain thought. They don't allow their logical left brain to tell them what they're thinking is impossible.
Has numbering skills. Know any accountants? Left brain all the way!
Has computer-like math calculation abilities. Sometimes I can add, subtract, multiply or divide large numbers together without thinking. The answer just pops into my mind. Many times, in doubt, I check my answer with a calculator and it's always correct. Read our article about computer-like math calculation.
Is logical and conscious. Takes in information slowly. Presenting information slowly and repetitiously stimulates the left-brain.
Is intuitive and subconscious. Takes in information quickly. Presenting large amounts of information at a fast pace exercises the right brain. See our article about rapid flashing or play our rapid flashing games. Also, read about our subconscious and intuition, a right brain function.
Is capable of scanning book pages. Most "speed reading" courses I've seen train us to scan pages in blocks in which the subject is committed to memory. This does work but not at nearly the speed of training the right brain and subconscious mind.
Is capable of speed-reading. Well, it's not technically speed-reading although it may look like it. When properly trained, we are able to take snapshots of pages, store them in the subconscious mind then instantly retrieve the information from each page in the form of images.* This is taught at the Shichida Child Academies. See our article on right brain training for speed reading ability. Also, check out our right-brain speed reading training cards, games and software!
Is practical. Works well under stress.
Is emotional. Works well when fully relaxed. See our article on how our well our brain functions operate when relaxed. Also check out our info and products that help you get in the best relaxed state of mind for accelerated learning.

Has perfect pitch. Watch a professional orchestra sometime. How do they all merge their instruments together with such perfection? Thank the senses of the right brain. See our article all about perfect pitch, where it comes from and how to develop it.

Is linked to photographic memory. Has the ability to access information in the brain's subconscious memory files on the instant. See our article on what photographic memory is all about and how to develop it.

Is able to acquire multiple languages. Patterns, rhythm, frequencies, tonal sounds, pitch and accents are absorbed and recorded naturally. I know a family whose mother is Swedish and the father is American. At home, they both speak in their native languages. Just by speaking both Swedish and English languages daily, all five of their children can speak these languages fluently at any given time without any confusion or mixing of languages. See our article on how we acquire multiple languages.

*Dr. Makato Shichida, President of Shichida Child Academies, Japan.
**Professor Chen Lung-an, Director of the Creative Thinking Educational Center, Taiwan.

My next post will be a table showing the  relationship between learning styles and hemispheric learning.

1 comment:

RealMom4Life said...

I found this very interesting. I think mainly because I have some kids that appear quite different from each other in the way they learn, and at least one child who appears to be more middle of the road.
But, what I found rather interesting is the note taking methods found within the chart. Mainly because in my house it's almost the exact opposite. I had always presumed my method of note taking with sort of a mind mapping technique was very left brained - and when my left brained son appreciated it I thought that made sense. My 2 very right brain daughters can't stand that. Both of them take very linear notes.

So, that got me thinking. Is it simply the way they were taught? They were both taught note taking by someone other than me.

Is their love for the linear method (and near disdain for the more right brain method of mind mapping) simply because that's what they've grown accustomed to? Would they learn better if they had been taught both methods from the beginning?

Do I choose more of a mind mapping type model (even though I am very left brain in every other aspect) because I can't stand when things don't fit completely linearly? I.E. I cannot stand taking notes in an outline fashion only to have to add an important piece of information I discover later? It's messy and disorganized! (I used to rewrite my notes when I took them this way - I could NOT study with them but rather studied by rewriting.) Now I can't say I'm completely a right brained mind mapping note taker either. My notes tend to be a combo. Start in the middle and put key ideas in the 4 corners (or spread out evenly for however many key ideas there are) and then have somewhat of an outline within - leaving plenty of space to add info where it belongs! Or...in some cases a flow chart method works quite nicely (but that's probably more left brain anyway). I can study using notes taken with either of those methods!

Other parts of your post were spot on with my kids! Really interesting.

For my younger set I am going to work on presenting material (and outlining on my white board) in a variety of ways and see what they gravitate to. I do think it's important to learn different methods - but if it's a subject they struggle with I really want to present it to them in a method that works best for them. They can practice with other methods those subjects that come really easy to them.

Thank you so much. I am sorry I wrote so much in your com box. I won't be offended if you don't post my comments - I just really wanted to share them because I thought it might be useful information on some level.