Right Brain Dominant Learners : Can We Teach Them in Our Schools
I grew up in an African American community where right brained learners were fairly common. The community was full of singers, dancers, athletes and artists. They all had one thing in common besides their love of the arts, they were all poor. So early in life, I associated right brain activities with poverty — which I rejected. Some earned a living relying on the right brain for a short period of time. But eventually they returned to the “real world” bitter and nostalgic about the people who crossed over.
So I learned to lead with my left brain. I would look at the entire picture in the solitude and organize my thoughts. Make a decision to execute my plan and then hand it over to my left brain to run with it. If I could not hand it over to my left brain, then I buried it deep inside. Poverty? under no circumstances, frivolous, not me. Many right brained people are not taken seriously. Left brain is more detailed oriented and the right brain is more focused on the big picture.
The left hemisphere can be described as analytical, it recognizes the parts that make up the whole. The left brain processes information linear and segregated. It efficiently processes verbal information encoding and decoding speech. Left brained learners excel in school, it is their paradise.
The right hemisphere combines parts to create a whole. It constructs patterns, recognizes patterns and relationships between separate parts. Right hemisphere processes simultaneously and holistically. Right hemisphere is excellent at visual and spatial processing. Music allows students to coordinate both hemisphere. Music programs disappear in hard times.
I couldn’t compete with the extroverted right brainers. I relied on my strong logical left brain which I used to navigate my way through high school with honors and through college. College was a struggle for me. I didn’t find the course work difficult. I thought differently. I questioned, challenged, examined, explored, and almost did not get through the eye of the needle.
I learned to poke it in and puke it out on demand”. Tell them what they wanted to hear in a logical organized format. Don’t raise questions or give too much information. Keep it short, sweet and reinforce their belief. I poked and puke it through a Doctorate Program. I retreated into my right brain for rest and relaxation and wrote my truth for my eyes only. My stress sprang from overreliance of my left brain.
I promised that when I got through the eye of the needle, I would remember all of those bright, brilliant people who got chewed up and spit out of the meat grinder. The difference between them and me was a strong left hemisphere which pulled me through.
It is exhausting. I find respite in my right brain, rest and rejuvenation . I am committed to designing interventions which allow students to use their right brain to express themselves . I am committed to helping all children learn and enjoy the process. I am particularly sensitive to those who can’t follow the lock step sequential processes that are so prevalent in schools. We are missing so much talent. So many human lives shattered before they began. Potential wasted and we suffer globally for the loss of productivity. These are the people who are filling our prisons and welfare waiting rooms. They are the homeless, unemployed, disenfranchised. Reach them in schools, let them design our alternative energy sources, find cures for diseases. What creativity, talent lie unleashed . If only we would educate them…..