Improve Success in School with Right Brain Learningby Denise Vincent - isbi schools
Even though half the UK’s students are right brain learners many schools today are still catering primarily for left brain learners. If your child is struggling to learn it may be that their learning style is not being catered for. Recognising that there are different ways of thinking and understanding helps us to realise that children who are struggling are not necessarily academically challenged but may not be being taught using the right methods.
In 1981, Roger Sperry won a Nobel Peace Prize for his research during the 1950’s and 60’s proving that the brain is divided into two major hemispheres. He showed that the different sides of the brain are associated with different styles of thinking. Most of us are either right or left brain dominant and knowing whether your child is a right or left brain learner can help improve their success in school.
If your child is logical and analytical, reads directions carefully and thoroughly, enjoys numbers, structure and detail, likes categorisation and remembers names easily; they are probably a left brain learner. Left brain learners will often take neat notes, listen carefully to auditory information and enjoy objective thinking where there are black and white distinctions and definitive answers. Timed tests won’t prove too challenging and they will be organised and methodical in their approach to learning.
Right brain learners on the other hand are more likely to scan directions rather than reading them thoroughly, they prefer hands-on learning where they don’t have to sit and listen and are much better at unstructured thinking than rote learning. They will see the big picture rather than the detail so they prefer visual input where they can store information as a whole picture rather than in parts. They often excel at imaginative ideas and are sometimes labelled dreamers; having a good grasp of creativity and concepts they are at ease with subjective thinking. Right brain learners process information in a non-linear way so they can cope with paradoxes and ambiguity, they are more likely to appreciate metaphors, music and the arts.
Of course no student is exclusively a right or left brain thinker or learner. Although one side is often dominant, we all use both hemispheres. All learners can benefit from right brain learning methods especially as it’s the right side of the brain that houses our long-term memory. To remember something for a long period of time it is best stored as a picture, whether that’s by remembering an actual visual representation or as a mental picture created by imagery such as in a story.
There are some great resources available for right brain learners and you’ll also find excellent schools that avoid the one-size- fits-all method of teaching. So if you think your child might benefit from right brain teaching methods start doing some research. There’s an increasing range of books and online resources dedicated to right-brain thinking and learning and once you discover methods that your child understands and enjoys you could find it makes a huge difference to their learning capability.
By the way - all you right brain parents, if all you read was the title and the last paragraph, give your left hemisphere a bit of a treat and read the middle. Go on, you know you want to!