Left brain or Right brain thinkers?

Have conversations of left and right brain ever made you wonder.

Many people proclaim themselves to being left brain or right brain thinkers. When all of us have both the left and the right brain why are we more polished on one side?

Or are we?  

Left brain people are said to be more rational, analytic, and controlling, while right brain people are said to be more intuitive, creative, emotionally expressive and spontaneous.

Are we saying the brain muscles know the meanings of these words and decide one over the other?

Let’s analyse a few words from the list above:

Rational –  having the ability to reason.

Intuitive – using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning; instinctive.

Analytic – putting to use methodical, systematic approaches to arrive at conclusions

Creative – ability to connect dots and imagination to create something original

Now let’s apply our beliefs of left brain and right brain to the popular story believed to be the reason behind the Archimedes principle of Buoyancy.

‘Eureka!’ – The Story of Archimedes and the Golden Crown

As per this story it is believed that the phenomenon of water overflowing as Archimedes lowered himself in the bath was the reason for him to be able to propose the Archimedes principle, which states that a body partially or completely immersed in a fluid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the body.

It can be clearly seen from the story that Archimedes’ intuition/instinct to react to the overflowing water brought about rational thinking and bridged the unconscious to conscious reasoning. He creatively connected the displacement of water in the bath tub to the possibility of using the same technique to identify pure gold. Finally he logically proposed the solution and analytically proved the solution. His spontaneous emotional expression of nude ‘Eureka’ has a major role to play in the popularity of the story and connectivity to buoyancy in the world of children.

So should we assume that Archimedes was only a left brain thinker?

Was Newton only a left brain thinker with his creative ability to connect the dots of an apple falling to gravity.

“It’s absolutely true that some brain functions occur in one or the other side of the brain. Language tends to be on the left, attention more on the right. But people don’t tend to have a stronger left- or right-sided brain network. It seems to be determined more connection by connection,” explained the study’s lead author Dr. Jeff Anderson.

The left brain has the tools for mainly vertical/convergent thinking and the right brain has the tools for lateral/divergent thinking. Vertical/convergent thinking helps to systematically formulate solutions and lateral/divergent thinking makes the metaphorical connections and provides originality to these solutions.

I very recently ran into  brilliant use of divergent/lateral thinking with a set of preschoolers:

In one of the sessions on Universe we had been conversing about the formation of Earth and how Earth was originally as hot as the Sun; the Earth has now cooled off but the Sun has not. A 4 year old instinctly asked:

“Why is Sun so hot?”

The question took me by a surprise as I tried to struggle to explain to a 4 year old the mass of the sun, friction between particles…..

Pondering over the best way to answer the question for that age group I asked the kids to rub their hands and experience the heat.. We did this for sometime and touched each other to feel the warmth.

Immediately one of them reacted, ” How many hands does the sun have?”

That not only landed a smile on my face but made it easier to explain about the amount of gas, particles and heat reactions that occur because of rubbing of particles….

Divergent thinking is the process of generating multiple related ideas for a given topic or solutions to a problem. Divergent thinking occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing, ‘non-linear’ manner.

Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is the ability to apply rules to arrive at a single ‘correct’ solution to a problem such as the answer to an IQ test problem. This process is systematic and linear.

Lateral or divergent thinking lies at the core of human cognition and is a key component for a multitude of functions such as problem solving, reasoning, and discovery and learning. It has been argued that the very act of forming an analogy requires a kind of “mental leap,” inasmuch as it necessitates seeing one thing as if it were another (Holy-oak & Thagard, 1995). Many scientific discoveries frequently rely on these mental leaps, and analogy forms the basis for our everyday problem solving, from the simplest instance to the most sophisticated reasoning strategy. Whereas vertical or convergent thinking provides structure, methodology, formulation, verification to our solution for repetitive reproduction.

So next time you think left brain and right brain, think different….

Don’t think in isolation….

They are both equally important and need to be both worked on….

Imagine a scientist who cannot creatively connect thoughts and a painter who cannot sell his paintings…

 

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She was speaking English after all…. then what was the problem?

 

Imagine… you are put in a room of strangers and you do not know their language. Imagine… your basic needs of food, shelter and security demand communication. Imagine… your every action is being watched to be judged. Imagine… you are smart but everyone misjudges you owing to lack of understanding or fixated ideas. Imagine… you could be a leader but you are struggling to fit in…

In spite of all technological advances when I imagine myself in rural Korea/China, a sweat starts to break out and I start to get cold feet…

I am sure you are imagining yourself in a place already and are lost in some visuals…

Let me share a visual with you. About two decades ago I was at a diner in California. The host seated a young girl in the booth adjacent to mine. She seemed a little timid. I could clearly tell she was not a local. When the server arrived she tried to place an order for her eggs. She frantically tried to explain to him how she wanted her eggs. The irritated puzzled look on the server got my attention and intervention. I quickly translated her request to “Over Hard” to both the server and the girl’s relief. In conversation I figured it had been only a month since she had arrived in California. She was on an assignment equipped with a degree from IIT (A prestigious technology institute in India. The students from this institute have commendable academic credentials) .

It made me wonder: “She was speaking English after all…. then what was the problem?”

The problem was she did not fit in the view of the server’s world.

You may argue this was two decades ago. Things have changed…

Have they?

The best of us are at loss when put out of our comfort zone (our views of the world). I feel like an ill-literate when it comes to social media tools as opposed to my 14 year old. I am sure I am being judged by her world and worse of all my learning skills have rusted…

Now let’s put ourselves in the tiny shoes of a child.

Starting at birth the child is trying to fit in the world. On an ongoing basis the child is constantly putting himself/herself out of the comfort zone, learning the language of communication, mimicking action, learning the ropes of acceptable behaviour, grasping cognition all in presence of  adults who bring it upon themselves to TEACH a child their view of the world.

Children by the nature of birth are resilient, ever changing and ever adapting.

Think about it: Starting from our cooing and gurgling at birth to learning the languages of conversation, language of math, language of all sciences, language of economics, language of behaviour, language of politics, language of  technology…………………. we have come a long way and found our place in this world.

Though our parents tried to teach us to fit in their view of the world, our world is way more different than theirs and our children’s world is going to be nowhere similar to ours with dynamically changing new languages of social media, AI, machine learning, new frontiers on land and beyond and more.

As adults this dynamic scenario may be intimidating but we know what worked for us: Not how our parents viewed the world but our belief in what we can make of the world, our confidence in our limbs and senses along with the love of our parents, their confidence in us.

Today let’s pledge to rise above our bounds and respect and understand our children’s world:

  • Let’s patiently help build confidence in their limbs and senses and in turn their ‘Self Esteem’ and NOT be adults who lose patience as we are way more physically stronger
  • Let’s promote ‘Exploration’ and ‘Curiosity’ to create experiences which allow children to define and redefine their view of the world and  NOT be adults who are ready to judge as we are way more WORLD SAVVY by the virtue of having had the edge of years in the world
  • Let’s make ‘TIME’ to allow achievement of worldly milestones and be open to deviations and questioning
  • Let’s ‘MODEL’ behaviour to inculcate discipline and character and be open to being challenged
  • Let’s provide scenarios to develop ‘Problem Solving’ skills and ‘Creativity’ to contribute to the self, environment and world
  • Let’s expose social and emotional scenarios to cultivate ‘Empathy’ in multi-disciplinary environment.

Let’s nourish the our children with the strength of our world so they can expand and embrace their world and lead it in the right direction.

 

 

“It is a bull!” – It is my perspective

Mingling with children on the 29th at PowaiFest Funstreet in Powai left us with many stories and impressions:

Among other things our stall was hosting a sensory experience of string painting. String painting by the nature of the art technique is a combination of known and unknown, The technique though allows the control of action to the artist, has an element of unknown that leaves the artist in tingling anticipation of the creation. The afterthought viewing of the outcome allows a lot of perspective taking.

One such incidence of perspective taking left me with an imagination of  a posture in meditation and an immediate rebuttal from a 6 year old “It is a bull!” We had demons looking like frogs, flower bouquets as butterflies, dragon flies, horses, hippos, children playing… The fun was to see the perspectives running wild.

The children were so intrigued by the outcome that they didn’t want to leave the counter in spite of the parents showing them greener alternatives. The freedom to create with no restriction and judging had them picking the colours and papers fearlessly and delving in the most basic behaviour of learning – “EXPLORATION”

“The instructions of the teacher consist then merely in a hint, a touch—enough to give a start to the child.”

 

The limited supplies and limited space on the table did not make them upset instead had them engaged in viewing others work and wait their turn patiently. I am sure a lot of adults took away many lessons in patience.

It was very exciting to see the parents wanting to show the children the techniques that they had used in their childhood. One incidence of such sharing had me thinking:

The technique was free form symmetry with coloured dots placed in the centre of a folded paper. Pressing the paper and the colours allowed the paint to mix and make beautiful symmetrical creations. Motivated by the colours the 2 year old grabbed the tube and placed her dots in every part of the paper instead of the center. The parent impulsively tried to run to rescue, wanting to instruct the child that she was not conforming. A polite restraint helped the parent discover an alternative perspective and still a beautiful outcome and most of all happiness in child as she happily displayed her work… She owned this creation and not others….

I couldn’t help but smile.

“While we may believe we are “helping” the child, in fact, any time the adult offers assistance or interrupts, she becomes an impediment to the child’s growth.”

At one point in time we were all engaged outside the stall. The painting samples and all material was left on the table unattended with no one to instruct. What amazed me the most was that children approached the table and exercised their free will of action and indulged in creations.

“And so we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.” 

This day will have a very fond place in my memory as I will cherish experiencing Montessori in its natural form.

 

 

 

 

 

Education: Self Realised Happiness!

A child’s first moment of interaction with the real world requires the child to exercise learning: learning to breathe, learning to survive.

Looking at the success rate of 7.5 billion humans we can claim without any doubts that we are champion learners by birth.

Then why educate a learner?

“Education in the largest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense, education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values.”

Repetitive formative effects of the acts and experiences shape and mold an individual in the way he/she thinks, believes, views, feels, acts and reacts in the society to:

  • Simply reproduce learning/knowledge to contribute and maintain the harmony in the ecosystem
  • Challenge the existing norms with radical thinking and bring about shifts in mindsets
  • Be curious, question, solve and innovate for the betterment of people and society
  • Find synergies beyond walls of stereotypes, break thought barriers and contribute towards world view and humanity.
  • ……

Education is thus a deviation from impulsive learning, it is the source of nourishment of body and soul; it is the reason behind innovation and grit stories; it is a means of shaping thoughts and behaviour; it is an enabler to help find our unique place in this universe and exercise our full potential for the sake of happiness for ourselves, our fellow beings and humanity as a whole.

A self engaging perspective of education as outlined above cannot be limited only to transfer of academic knowledge  with time bound milestones. It instead demands the learner to be self motivated and responsible for their own education with awareness of their learning abilities.

Education demands an environment of active learning equipped to promote and satisfy curiosity; constructive engagement of action to help build intuitive muscle memory and in turn self confidence and esteem.

Education demands independent work spaces, collaboration and cooperation to respect independence and interdependence.

Education demands reflection of action and thought with cause and effect analysis to help self connect; develop behaviour, beliefs, value system and in turn character.

Education demands contribution to real world problem solving to help validate, fine tune and adapt.

Education demands mentors who never doubt the ‘learning abilities’ of children.

Education demands adults who can trust and make way for the young to lead the world with their evolved unique light.

We commit to be those mentors and adults… Do you?

A mentor makes all the difference

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult, who can share it rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” – Rachel Carson

 

Any good relationship demands happiness for all involved!

Education is an outcome of a very intimate relationship between the teacher and a child weaved over multiple years. Since the child spends most of his/her waking hours at a school this relationship plays a very important role in grooming a child into an individual. Teaching in its absolute terms defines the teacher as the giver and the student as the receiver. A one-dimensional relationship like this puts the teacher in control and can make the teaching process a mechanical chore for the teacher and uneventful learning process for the child, especially in a world where the technological advances are driving in a big generation gap.

A Montessori classroom breaks away from this traditional way of imparting education.

The nature of the Montessori classroom and the Montessori learning process requires the teacher to thoughtfully prepare the environment to meet the developmentally appropriate needs of the children. Within this environment the child exercises movement and freedom of choice to pick the appropriate activity deemed as ‘work’ and engages in the process of self learning experientially. The teacher carefully observes and understands the needs of every child in the classroom and intervenes to engage, nudge or lead the child by demonstrating, modeling, guiding or introducing new materials so that the children may continue to be engaged in the mastery of their work. Every child is observed individually and allowed to work at their own pace supporting differential education.

“…the tiny child’s absorbent mind finds all its nutriment in its surroundings.  Here it has to locate itself, and build itself up from what it takes in.” – Maria Montessori

In our classroom at ‘Sweven’ the teacher is in control of the environment and not the child and expects to be showered with many magical moments as young minds beam with pride “I learned it myself!” filling the teacher’s heart with exhilaration and gratification.

As the children will progress through the complexity of the challenges the teachers will offer encouragement, share their triumphs, and steer them to greater understanding. The teacher’s behaviour will model values such as empathy, compassion, acceptance of individual differences and will promote collaboration, cooperation and higher order thinking.

This two-way relationship of happiness can be more described as of mentor and a mentee and lays the foundation for the eternal love for learning the child and the teacher will experience at ‘Sweven’.

In the spirit of inquiry and the dynamic nature of the multi-dimensional Montessori classroom, the curriculum in many cases is expected to take unexpected turns requiring the teacher to be multidisciplinary with presence of mind to be able to direct the child in the right direction.

At ‘Sweven’ our teachers are highly motivated mentors with multidisciplinary abilities and passion to make a difference and never let the curiosity die.

Our belief is “No question should go unanswered and if possible experienced”!

 

COMING SOON CLOSE TO POWAI

You can reach us at 70455 45090