Learning Tip: Right Brain or Left Brain?
By Susan Dichter
When people thought that the bumps on different parts of their skull were clues to intelligence, they would literally "have their brains examined." That's not done anymore—nineteenth century phrenology is now considered a quirky pseudo-science—but we still want to know how to measure intelligence.
IQ tests, an early twentieth century invention, are still one method we use. But even those who champion them acknowledge their flaws: they favor affluent kids and test a certain kind of intelligence. Another approach (although not codified on a standard school test) now recognizes what are called right- versus left-brain thinkers. Simply put, left-brained kids are logical, step-by-step thinkers. Right-brained kids rely more upon intuition and creativity to solve problems.
Of course, most kids are a combination of both, the proportions being different for each child. The important point for parents to remember is that both logical analysis and intuitive insight are valid ways to use one's brain, and both are strengths. In fact, our world needs both kinds of thinkers and there is no sense in trying to steer your L-mode thinker to the right (or vice versa). Instead, encourage your child to identify and develop whatever gifts nature has given her.
Susan Dichter wears many hats—mother, writer, former teacher, museum director, and librarian; her books include Teachers: Straight Talk from the Trenches.
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