I have been considered very left brained all my life, which is actually somewhat unusual for a woman. I am analytical, math oriented, rational, logical and linear in my thought. And it is my left brain that made me put that linear continuum up there for you to see (it was a stretch to put it on pink paper with purple ink). Had I been a right brained person, I would have been much more creative and had that continuum branching all over the place and in many different colors. Left brained attributes are quite often assigned to men, whereas women are generally more spontaneous, imaginative, emotional, sensitive and creative creatures or right brained. Now look at the attributes assigned to ADD and ADHD children: impulsive, hypersensory, sensitive, daydreamers, visual, distractible and in many cases hyperactive. There are far more detail descriptions, but I will leave that to you if you want to research further.
I wanted to understand everything I could about this phenomenon or what really comes down to different learning styles, because I wanted to help my boys and their teachers work through the obstacles that right brained thinking poses for left brained people in our socially acceptable left brained world. And I wanted to do it without my children taking any prescribed drugs. I am not a believer in medicating our youth (or adults for that matter). Although what I saw and experienced during my time locked up caused me to realize there are some people who do benefit with some help, as they are non-functioning otherwise.
I gained a great deal of understanding from this book and I think it helped me in my parenting as well, especially when it came to helping Nate (with autism) learn at all and with Brandon, in how solutions and methods for solving were presented. For both, once they had a visual of something they could work it every which way. As for Nate he could say the alphabet as fast backward as he did forward which was very fast. Pictures became the center of his learning. And he could read and remember like nothing I had ever experienced in my life.
With Brandon, he was the grand winner of the school spelling bees, year after year, because we pictured things together in his practice and once he realized he could spell words backwards and forward with the same speed, by utilizing the pictures in his head, he knew he could spell any word he had ever seen, because he could access the picture of that word in his head. Brandon was very artistic, he had beautiful and detailed drawings but as the grades progressed the school was not interested in developing that gift, in fact his drawing became a problem for teachers, in subjects other than art. In helping him with math homework, I knew I was in trouble. Brandon could visualize an answer (not doing the steps), whereas I was interested in taking him through the steps, because that is the way I think and I knew many teachers look for that as proof of understanding and doing your own work. But when we would sit at the kitchen table to work together, within 5 to 10 minutes he would literally turn around in his chair with his back to me and the little help session was over. He just didn't get it that way!! But when I searched for answers, I found that if I could explain a concept with pictures and allow him to tell me how he was seeing things, then we'd have a home run.
All of this caused me to become more creative, more observant and open to change if I wanted to relate to my boys and others like them. As part of my love for my boys I wanted to be useful in helping them to succeed. I am sure I share this with many parents out there.
As young adults, my sons both love music, art, are very visual and express their feelings loud and clear. Brandon has taught himself to play the keyboards and is in a band, in addition to working almost full time and going to college full time. He has learned to take his hyperactivity and focus it in ways that will benefit him. I have to remind him to sleep. Nate still loves to read, enjoys anything visual and is my most loving gentle giant.
When I developed The NOAH Project, we had a lengthy reading list of books as part of the training. The book I have mentioned in this post was of course high on that list. And many of our teachers/child facilitators made a point to tell me they really enjoyed it as it helped them to understand how there are truly different learning styles and for some it helped them to better understand their selves. Definitely a good read. In this day, the age of laptops, video games and iPhones, the VISUALS are winning out. More and more of the kids are fitting into this pattern, if not born this way, they become this way by the time they are 3 to 4 years old as a result of being surrounded by our current day technologies. For us old dinosaurs we have to move with them or be left in the dust.
All of that brings me to my point. The jails and prisons are just loaded with right brained people. I could not believe the talent of those incarcerated. Singing voices that would just bring you to your knees with tears in your eyes. And prison art is extraordinary. I learned some while I was in there and I wanted to share it with you. What I brought home is a combination of my doodles and that of others. Nancy (my dear cousin), if you are reading this, know that you inspired this blog post with your blog post Doodle that! Follow that link for more fun! Below is some of the prison art I brought home:
This is just a small sampling. Do you know, with exception of just a handful of women, most women I met in prison did miserably in school, many fell through the cracks at an early age,
yet they are talented, in a very right brained way. How many of these women, would you dare to guess, learn in a different way? By the time a child gets to the third grade, the teaching style becomes predominantly auditory and very left brained. What about the visual learners! That is also when behavior problems become so prevalent. If behavior problems were addressed in a positive way, meaning how can we teach you in a different way, how can we develop the skills you have, how can we help you in the best way to prepare for life (instead of trying to force a square peg into a round hole)...would our jails and prisons still be full to the brim? I dare say NOT!
The system failed many of these people at a very early age. It is my understanding the men's prison and jails have many talented people also. A whole lot of right brained people stubbing their toes in a left brained world....leading to incarceration. There are those who argue we should not educate people in prison, they messed up when they had their chance. I ask why not? The system failed them before, when they were kids being batted around, why not a second chance? And why not in a learning style that is conducive to their developmental growth. Our right brain is known for our survival skills. Many of these people did not have the best of home environments during their early years thus having to focus on survival, perhaps not able to make the jump to their left brain skills. But, while separated from the streets, can you think of a better time to reach these people and help them become productive members of society. They will be our neighbors, they are our fellow human beings, so why not help them get what they need to grow skills through education in a way they can learn and blossom?
We also have to address making a place for these people when they come out. A discussion on bettering people incarcerated falls by the wayside if we don't change our attitudes about those with a background and allow them a second (or third) chance by employing them and for that matter welcoming them into our churches. The statistics now reflect one in five people in this country have a criminal background. We have to educate and we have to change our attitudes so we can all become winners in this game of life.
FAMOUS RIGHT BRAINED PEOPLE:
Sir Isaac Newton
Leonardo Da Vinci
Thomas Alva Edison
Alexander Graham Bell