Communicating Concepts
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Left & Right Brain Hemispheres

       Do individuals have a creative side, or a more rational and logical side, or can both qualities coexist? Understanding the theory about the left brain and right brain hemispheres is about tapping into our inner resources to accomplish our goals.

       As a coach, teacher, or parent, wouldn't it be wonderful to have a plan that would ensure that we could reach all of our students/children? As we know all children have diverse learning styles that require different approaches to maximize our communication and transference of knowledge.

How can we adapt our communication, teaching, and parenting skills to engage every child?
       Developing knowledge about ourselves helps us to understand how our own "neurological style" influences the way we communicate information and motor skills to others. Everyone has a left-, a right or a middle-brain preference. This significantly influences our teaching philosophy and communication skills. By understanding the processes at work in the brain, we can understand the best way to help students to explore their own individual neurological style.

       A brain is divided into two "sides" or hemispheres. If your left brain is dominant, you are one of the 90 percent of all Americans who are left brain dominant and mostly right-handed, according to Dr. Eric H. Chudler of the University of Washington.

       The brain's left hemisphere is well equipped to process structured knowledge plus solving math and science puzzles. The left side of the brain is stimulated by reading books on non-fiction subjects that require step-by-step thought. It is challenged by learning a new language or a highly structured game of strategies such as chess.

       The left side focuses on details, problem analysis and controls the right side of your body. The brain's right side is intuitive, sees the "big picture," and manages the left side of your body.  When a part of brain is injured, it is sometimes possible to train another part of the brain to assume non-automic tasks. 

       The right hemisphere of the brain is the source of creative ideas and activities such as composing music, drawing/painting, sculpting, and writing fiction novels. The right brain is very good at solving problems by using visualization to envision different scenarios.

Split Brain Research
       The left brain right brain theory is credited to the 1981 Nobel prize winner, Roger Sperry on split-brain research. He noticed the two sides of our brains serve different functions:
  • The Left Brain is your verbal and logical brain. It thinks sequentially and breaks it down to numbers and words. It's the analytical, objective side.  A dominant individual functions best with sequential processes originating in the time-oriented left brain hemisphere which controls how we think, what we believe, and the choices we make.
  • The Right Brain is the non-verbal and intuitive part of your brain. His/her brain thinks in pictures or patterns and doesn't understand "breaking down" to numbers and words. It's the subjective and holistic side.  Someone who is right-brain dominant is intuitive and depends of the emotional right hemisphere to guide the decisions made throughout the day.
  •  Middle Brain Dominant individuals tend to be more flexible than either the left or the right-brain folks; however, they will frequently vacillate between the two hemispheres when making decisions. They sometimes get confused when decisions must be made because the tasks can accomplished tasks through either the left-brain or a right-brain.
       None of the descriptions above are set in stone. We do not always act according to our preferences. As we know, people are complex and so are their behaviors.

       Our culture in the USA places a high emphasis on left-brain activities: reading, writing, math. However, from the quote above, our left brain is the "slow" side of the brain, only doing 200 calculations per second, whereas the right side can do 100 trillion calculations per second.

       According to scientific research, everyone uses both hemispheres of our brains to some degree in everything we do. However, one side dominates in most people.

Left-Brain Communicators
       Individuals with a propensity for left-brain cognitive thought processing generally prefer to teach using lecture and discussion. They like to use outlines on the board or overhead, and adhere to prepared time schedules. They give problems to the students to solve independently.

       Teachers with left-brain preferences assign more research and writing than their right-brain students. A reasonably quiet, structured classroom is preferred. The classroom tends to be orderly with items in their place. Left-brain students prefer to work alone. They like to read independently and incorporate research into their papers. They favor a quiet learning environment without a lot of distraction.

       For most of us feel normal when we think in left brain mode (which is not the case for dyslexic people or kids). Most of our waking hours are spent in left brain mode, talking, writing, speaking, etc. So it's no wonder we have a difficult time accessing our right brain. Her phenomenal book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, has an exercise to illustrate getting from left brain to right brain mode.
Brain Dominance Influences Communication/Teaching Style
       Students with strong Left- or Right-Brain tendencies will thrive when coaches and teachers use a communication method that coincides with their neurological strengths. Although they can learn by different methods, they will become much more enthusiastic and involved when they can learn and do assignments in their brain's area of strength.

       Teachers who have strongly developed right-brain strengths generally prefer to use hands-on activities over a lecture format. The right-brain preference is to see the whole picture, these teachers incorporate more art, manipulative exercises, visuals, and music into their lessons. They are likely to involve their students in more group projects and activities, and prefer a busy, active, noisy classroom environment. The classroom environment of a strong Right-Brain teacher is typically cluttered and appears to be chaotic and typically materials and books scattered to the point of complete disorganization.

       Right-Brain students prefer to work in groups to create industrial arts projects in arts and graphic design. classes. Right-brain learners respond well to overhead PowerPoint presentations, videos, music, role playing, dance, or group projects. They would prefer to design and make a mobile and find writing a term paper to be tedious.

       Right-Brain and many Middle-Brain learners, will become overwhelmed from an environment dominated by auditory input, direct teaching, lecturing more often, or assigning more individual and/or research oriented projects.

       Left-Brain functions includes the following tasks:
  • Monitoring sequential and ongoing behavior
  • Responsible for awareness of time, sequence, details, and order
  • Responsible for auditory receptive and verbal expressive strengths
  • Specializes in words, logic, analytical thinking, reading, and writing
  • Responsible for boundaries and knowing right from wrong
  • Knows and respects rules and deadlines
      A teacher who is Middle-Brain should incorporate methods into their lesson plan that will challenge both Left and Right Brain students. For example, giving the students a variety of assignments to choose from each week. If the assignment is a book report provide each student with the option to choose one of the following: Write the report using an outline;
  • Present an oral report from an outline;
  • Draw and color a major scene from the book;
  • Design and create a mobile, poster, or diorama;
  • Dance a scene from the book; or
  • Create a different ending to the book.
      It is fascinating to watch students choose their neurological strengths when given a choice of assignments. Those with moderate to strong right-brain strengths will choose to draw, act, or create. Those with the left-brain preference will write or perform an oral presentation to the class.

      Scientific research recommends against interfering with a young child's dominant brain side. A 2007 study by Dr. Stefan Klöppel and his colleagues at the University of Hamburg Medical School in Germany determined that while children could be forced to change from left-handed to right-handed cursive writing their neural pathways were inefficiently rerouted.
   
      Ambidextrous athletes are highly valued, and people deprived of the use of one side of their bodies due to brain injuries can benefit from having previously trained the non dominate other half of their brain.

Recommended Reading:

Left vs Right Brain: Which Hemisphere Dominates You? Basic Right Brain and Left Brain Characteristics.

Right Brain Vs Left Brain The concept stresses on the differences between the right and left brain which ... aspects about right brain vs left brain, let's have a brief look at basic characteristics of ... People with right brain dominance tend to excel in fields like athletics,

The Right Side Here is some more characteristics of a right-brained person. ... Right brain controls left side of body; Prefer visual instructions with examples; Good at sports.

PDF  A model balancing cooperation and competition April 24, 2012 ... right-handed world and the dominance of left-handed athletes. Daniel M. ... Thus it could easily be applied to selection for other traits.

References:
Resources:
   
The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

   
Developing Personality Traits and Character Traits

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