If you have children attending Shichida classes (whether at Springleaf or Toa Payoh), do come and meet Ryan this Sunday, 2 June 2013, at the Makoto Club showcase at the Toa Payoh branch. The event starts at 5.30 pm. Not to worry if you can only come later - Ryan only gets on stage during the later segment - "Meet a Shichida Genius", which should start around 6 pm. I understand from the staff that they usually get a crowd of about 80 people (including children) and the crowd is usually a bit rowdy because the children run and walk about, so I'm imagining that it will be quite a friendly, casual event.

There will be another student at the showcase. I haven't met her yet but, if you know Tan Wen Yu, do come and support her too. I'm looking forward to seeing her on Sunday.

After the students' performances, there will be a question-and-answer session with their parents (including me), so it will be a good opportunity to find out more about Shichida parenting and home activities. Hopefully, I can give you something helpful to take away from the session!

For today's post, in addition to plugging Sunday's event (heh heh), I want to talk about the importance of the right part of the brain. I have heard people say many things about the "right brain" and about "right brain training" and, most of the time, their comments are over-simplistic to me. There are also some comments which don't make sense to me. So I thought that I would explain a little about how the right part of the brain contributes to our everyday life and, hopefully, that will shed a little light on how important it is. What I've posted here is a result of reading up here and there. If you would like the sources or some reading material, let me know.

First of all, it's just not true that most people don't use their right brains. Everyone with an intact brain (ie. no brain damage or anything like that) uses the left and right parts of their brains. At its very basic, if you can lift your left hand, tap your left foot, turn your head to the left - that's the right part of the brain working. That's why stroke victims who suffer damage to their right brain have difficulty moving the left parts of their body, and vice versa.

Second, the left part of the brain processes things in sequence, while the right part of the brain processes things simultaneously. So sequential functions like talking, writing and reading - these are performed by the left part of the brain. Recognising faces, identifying shapes, getting a feel of situations - these are performed by the right brain.

Third, the left part of the brain breaks things down into details, while the right part of the brain puts details together to see the big picture. So, activities such as sorting and categorising - left part of the brain does all that. On the other hand, the right part of the brain sees relationships and connections, even between elements which are very different. It gives us the power to invent, create, and synthesise.

Fourth, the left part of the brain handles text, while the right part of the brain handles context. Nothing new here - let's say I tell you that it's raining "cats and dogs". The left part of the brain will think literally of cats and dogs falling from the sky, while the right part of the brain will process it as a metaphor. This applies to emotional context as well - the right part of the brain connects details such as body language, facial expressions, etc. and uses those details to provide the context to what we say. So if my husband tells me that it's ok, but rolls his eyes at the same time, the right part of my brain will understand that it's really not ok.

Sometimes you hear people say how the left brain "takes over" when the right brain isn't active or isn't strong enough. I've said that myself, usually because I don't want to launch into a big explanation. In fact, that is an over simplification and is not accurate. Both parts of the brain contribute to nearly everything we do, although one part may be more active in a particular activity. Each part approaches things differently and both approaches are necessary for us to navigate life.

I was brought up in an age where the more facts you could hold in your memory bank and the faster you could recall them, the better and the smarter you were. I believe that this is changing now. Now, information is so easily accessible. At a click of a button, you can find out a million and more facts. People self-diagnose their medical ailments from reading websites, from sending out queries to forums and Facebook friends. I can learn how to play a guitar, how to sew a blouse, how to say "I love you" in Japanese, and how to roast a chicken - all from Youtube.

So, if a computer can pull up information and do it faster and cheaper, where does that leave us?

Well, I believe that the people who have the greatest chance of success in the future will be people who are creative and people who have high emotional quotient (people who have empathy). People who, having all the facts, can take matters a step further to design solutions, come up with new ideas and new perspectives, and initiate progress. People who see and create beauty - because, out of the twenty different models of washing machines you see at the store, the bestseller is the one with the good looks. And people who infuse empathy into their relationships and fill their lives with meaning. All these people will be more right brain driven.

This post is an overview but I hope it gives you some insight into how I view right brain training. It also explains why I emphasise certain right brain training activities and de-emphasise others. If you have any questions, feel free to email me or, even better, come down for the showcase on Sunday!


Sue said...

Very interesting Leona!!
Thanks for breaking it down. Yup i see what you mean... what activities then do you emphasize and which do you de-emphasize?

Pinkie Pirate said...

I give Ryan a lot of open-ended activities that encourage his creativity and problem-solving skills. Stuff like building, block play and art. I don't place much emphasis on skills like subitizing or speed reading. Hmm, maybe I will write more about this in a post.

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