Here’s how you can master your brain to succeed in the world
Dr. Vasanthi Vasudev, 05 Dec 2018

Prabhu, the glamorous ‘honcho ‘of a Fortune 500 company was a little distraught, when he was asked to give a keynote address at his alma mater.  What would he talk about? Would he reminisce his hours long ‘out of class ‘stints, head in the clouds, shifting legs and waiting for the bell to ring anecdotes? Would he talk about his many teachers’ irritation at his restlessness, his inability to follow a routine in work and meet with deadlines in assignment completions, and his jack in the box attitude? Or would he want to tell them about how he loved to draw, observe, to tinker, to experiment, cut, glue, break, build, or paint but never got around to telling them so!  Would he be able paint the paradox? How much of a misfit he had been in the typical classroom but how successful he was at the big laboratory called Life where his right brains skills had paid off!

Right brain skills

Brain research has established that the specialized characteristics of the right hemisphere make it the seat of curiosity, synergy, experimentation, metaphoric thinking, playfulness, solution finding, artistry, flexibility, synthesizing and in general, risk taking. In addition, the Right brain is oriented to being opportunistic, futuristic, welcoming of change, and functions as the centre of our visualization capability. 

However, research shows that around 60% of people in the developed world are dominant in left hemisphere style thinking. Thinking with the left side of our brain is excellent for fact gathering and analysing and for precision and analysis, it's also great for organising information and situations, keeping records and developing plans. In short, the left brain loves order and details.

But the trouble with zooming in on the details with a critical eye is that we can miss out on the bigger picture. That's the realm of our right brain and it facilitates wonderful abilities such as flexibility of thinking, intuitive problem solving, and creative planning, considering values, spotting new possibilities and interacting sensitively and positively with others.  On the contrary, left brained thinking makes us critical, change resistant, tendency to fix on ‘being always right ‘and quick to find faults in others.

It appears that in the past centuries, humans have survived on right brain thinking skills and our traditional societies and cultural practices were rooted in right brain styles of functioning. These have predominantly held a holistic and spiritual view of life where decisions thrived on intuitive intelligence, and symbolic thought processes and went far beyond words; dance music and art formed essential patterns of living and took precedence over planning and goal setting. Imagination, fantasy and humour triggered creations that well surpassed what order and serial thinking can achieve.

TRADITIONAL Native American mode of thinking is uniquely different from modern man. This difference has intrigued scholars worldwide for years 

  • Traditional Indian education was done by precept and example i.e. discovery learning or learning by doing. 

  • Many tribes used symbols to record their history. 

  • Native American elders taught the youngsters to think twice before they spoke or acted on anything which encouraged visual thinking which is right hemispheric. 

  • Traditional Native Americans taught through the use of stories or storytelling. 

  • Historically many tribes believed in and used dreams as a method to guide their lives. Native Americans are amazed at their ability to laugh about serious situations. Humor, is the right hemisphere's metaphoric ability.

  • Volumes of books have been written about the scouting, hunting, tracking techniques of the Native American that are built on keen perceptive and spatial abilities. Perception is a unique ability of the right hemisphere.

  • Traditional Native Americans never developed a written language. When traditional people wanted knowledge all they needed to do was to participate in a ceremony to receive knowledge they learnt by thinking with their hands!

  • This may be the reason for the psychic phenomenon and miracle healing performed by spiritual people.

Evidently, traditional education in all ancient human societies was a right hemispheric process and that fully explains why colour, imagination and spatial awareness dominated their lives and they often had amazing psychic and spiritual powers as well!

Very surprisingly, modern education systems, for myriad reasons valid and otherwise, had abandoned “right-brained” skills for a couple of centuries and more.  However, in the past few decades the winds of change have begun to sweep and curricula are reworking their fundamentals to be less skewed. While the logical, language-based elements of the left hemisphere of the brain are as important as ever, in our fast-paced world, we can no longer afford to disregard the value of strong right-hemisphere thinking. Taking in large amounts of information through the manipulation of visual images, making split-second decisions, and taking risks are increasingly considered more valued skills. In other words, there is wide acceptance of the view that traditional, left-hemisphere teaching methods are simply not adequate enough to develop cutting edge whole-brain thinking. And so, the good old right can hardly be ignored anymore!

  • All logical learning is the domain of the left brain. All creative learning happens in the right. New Images Next operates on the premise that whole-brain development is essential for holistic learning. The 8-steps move from right (subjective) to left (objective) and so on and so forth, ensuring learning occurs in both sides of the brain. That way learners who are more attuned  to focussing on the left side are persuaded to equally explore right-brain learning and vice versa. The final step, relate, is a whole-brain activity, which means that both sides of the brain are integrated here. So holistic learning is achieved if this pedagogy is followed in the right manner. Essentially, this helps the learner connect the dots in their learning and integrate their understanding of English and language with the rest of the subjects. It also leads to application of this learning in real life.

  • This will help learners hone multiple intelligences. It will enhance their weak areas and consolidate their areas of strength. This will lead to better conceptual understanding as well. This will definitely enhance employability for the future.

  • This pedagogy focuses on skill building and conceptual clarity. It is about building language skills, having conceptual understanding of literary concepts, enhancing application of English in other fields. It does not focus on nor guarantee better marks. That is definitely not the focus.

The article has been written by: Dr. Vasanthi Vasudev, Author- New Images Next and Magic Strokes for Pearson India


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