Let’s explore something first.
If you had a Red Delicious apple on the table, would you be able to tell how many seeds are in it just by looking at it from the outside?
Suppose you cut it up, remove the core, and then remove the seeds. If you planted the seeds, what do you think will happen? Some will do nothing, some might sprout a weed-like plant, maybe if you’re lucky, one might even grow into a tree if you provided the right environment: water, nutrients, correct soil mixture, appropriate sunlight, love and affection, etc. In that case would you know how many apples are in a seed?
The basic questions of how many seeds are in an apple could be answered once you dissect it, but how many apples are in a seed is unanswerable.
Everyone has a brain and the potential to do great things. The real issue boils down to what type of environment and resources are available.
Can we affect the potential that lies within each individual? Will it naturally surface or can we help it along?
Right now there are a lot of discussions about baby brain development and are there certain types of preschool learning games or perhaps kids learning software that will allow you to teach your baby to read, for example.
Is it really possible to teach very young children (i.e. preschool ages) to actually read books?
Apparently, according to some of the more modern educational methods such as the Shichida Method, and Montessori Materials, etc., toddlers can learn reading, math, and other skills at incredibly young ages. This is due to a better understanding in the learning processes of people.
Note: this article is a bit long, so go grab some juice or tea, you could be here for a while.
In my own case, I used to teach computer courses to children up to adults. And I was often intrigued by the fact that some people (of any age) seemed to pick up the material quite easily whereas others struggled miserably. I had no real explanation and it bothered me.
So, I decided to dig deeper and ended up studying education. After a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s Degree, a few Teaching Credentials, and dozens of education courses (from elementary to secondary to adults to vocational training, to Special Education, to English as a Second Language/culture courses, etc. the full gamut).
I began to understand a little more about learning and processing information. Suffice to say, there is great power if you learn how to learn. Problem is, you and most people are only exposed to a rather singular teaching method: left-brain or not all.
Here’s where things get interesting (and yes we will have to look at the left brain versus right brain controversy).
The left-brain is our linear logic center and we are usually rewarded when we use logic or rote processing in school. Thing is, lessons that are taught to the left-brain almost always use a speaking-hearing model. This works great for folks that like listening, hearing, and gravitate towards sounds. These individuals love a sing-song approach and will regurgitate info at will if you give them a nursery rhyme, a song, a little ditty, etc. They may even sing lessons in their heads.
These are known as auditory brains. Their brains are wired for sounds. They function very well when there is some type of noise either in the background or foreground. You may even see them tap on the desk to establish a rhythmical pattern of sound to help keep them focused. All of this works well for them.
However, what about the folks that don’t particularly enjoy sounds when learning? There is a large segment of the population that has been virtually ignored for years. These individuals have been ridiculed and shamed because they need a quiet orderly environment to learn. They want to read and use their eyes – NOT their ears when it comes to learning, and for that they have been abused by so-called teachers, parents, and other classmates all of their lives.
Right-brained individuals think in a non-linear, intuitive fashion, and learn best through seeing and feeling. At school, right-brained children will often be marked down for not showing the working used to reach their answers. What their teachers fail to realize is these children don’t have the usual work to show, even though they reached the correct destination by an unorthodox route. Einstein is a good example of a right-brained person who consistently scored poorly at school.
According to right-brain educators such as Makoto Shichida, accessing the right brain not only enables a child to learn more efficiently, it can unlock genius-level abilities. It is not that learning with the right brain makes someone a genius automatically, but rather that there is a genius inside every one of us – if only we can access the right brain especially at a young age – this is the perfect time as young children are right-brain dominant.
What kind of abilities are we talking about? Talents like speed reading and photographic memory – and the seemingly limitless powers of recall associated with them. Abilities like producing an accurate drawing of something only once glanced at, or telling instantly that the number of items being shown to us is 32 – and not 31 or 33. Prodigious musical talents and the ability of perfect pitch also rely on the use of the right brain.
Here’s one of many things that have happened to me over the years.
One day I felt that I should check on two of my dogs (a female Pit Bull and her daughter a Pit/Golden mix); their room was an enclosure above the garage which could be viewed from the kitchen window.
I looked out and didn’t see them, I went in the room and noticed that there was new hole in the fence and they had escaped.
So, my left-brain told me to drive up and down all of the nearby streets (that would be a lot of them), but my right-brain had something else in mind: drive to where I would “feel” them. I thought that would be a better plan since I do seem to be sensitive, I figured I would try to use this skill.
I grabbed up a box of snacks and drove by feelings.
Three blocks later, around the corner, sure enough, they were there, I called them whilst shaking the box of snacks and they came running. They hopped in, I took them back home, we fixed the fence and they got a lecture (btw, dogs hate a lecture – it is so boring for them), so I gave them another snack and told them not to do this again.
Which works better, left-brain or right-brain? It does depend on the situation. For me, I want to use any and all available resources when I need to solve a problem, I am not afraid to use all of my skills to get the job done.
I spent a lifetime feeling different than most and I paid a price. There were obvious differences in how I learned and utilized materials, but I had no real way to verbalize about it so I had to basically sit down and shut up since no one bothered to find ways to really help me learn. I had to fumble my way through and do the best I could with no support whatsoever from any adults in my life.
I was very interested in learning music and was promised piano lessons, but it never happened – it wasn’t a priority. I wanted a piano and I didn’t get one until I could save up for it myself, but by that time I was in college. Who would have time for music lessons at that stage? That just amounted to a lot of wasted years.
I was also very interested in languages as this came easy for me, but I was not able to have any type of foreign language instruction until high school – yep more wasted opportunities as whatever I wanted to learn was never a priority.
Trying to cram in learning experiences in high school, college, or later, is just not the same as learning during formative years (i.e. during childhood developmental stages). Sure, you can learn new skills at a later date, but how about your foundation, if those skills are not completely developed, then there’s always something missing, fragments, that have to be stitched together in some rag-tag manner.
It wasn’t until one day when I happened to have a brief conversation with one of my professors and he asked me what does a cat look like? So, I gave him a detailed description (including shape, size, colors, textures, etc.). He told me that I was a visual learner.
In that brief couple of moments, that explained volumes. Now I had a context in which to put things.
So, when did I get my revelation? That conversation took place in perhaps my 2nd to the last year of my Master’s Degree program. Mind you, at that point I would have been in my late twenties or early thirties. Let’s call it 30. So, that’s 30 years of fooling around, fumbling around in the dark as it were, trying to make sense of everything; in other words, that’s half a lifetime of wasted opportunities, lost experiences, huge chunks of time down the drain. Why?
I remember in grade school my teachers seemed like talking mouths. Endless talk, I was building things in my mind, yet I had no means to make those things, just their sounds of non-stop chatter – I was bored out of my mind – day-in and day-out, more of the same. I was frustrated and since I had to use half of my energy tuning out all of those unnecessary sounds, I was tired a lot of the time.
I felt trapped and powerless. I did my work and had to wait for everyone else to finish – with nothing to do I went into my own world of pictures. I took pictures with my mind of everything I saw (and still do today – not always by choice, but it just works out that way); yep, mind-photography where I have loads of pictures particularly of landscapes, floral scenes, interesting buildings, small animals, i.e. the “scenic route”.
At this stage I do use my other skills regularly: rarely do I ever have to use a tape measure – I just use my eyes and in most cases I can actually visualize if an object can fit in a space (with or without other things) or not; when I buy produce at the grocery store, I never use their scales – I find my hands are always more accurate – so I just weigh stuff with my hands (as long as I can pick it up); when I interact with my dogs, I use my eyes and my mind – they always know what I’m thinking about – we communicate freely it works very well, and I will use intangibles when I need some extra help (I have gotten pretty good with using a pendulum – I just found this skill recently and although I had no prior experience with this, it came surprisingly easy for me – but then is it really a surprise given that apparently I am very right-brain dominant and have always been sensitive to unspoken thoughts and feelings of others).
So, I guess I am bitter about the whole thing – all the waste and what-ifs, but I can’t go back and do anything – really where would I even start – if I could go back and fix something it would be my luck to fix one problem and then find I had hundreds more to deal with. I guess I should be grateful to have learned about how my brain works even though it took half a lifetime to gain this valuable knowledge – some folks never figure this out – indeed that is a pity, these are probably very unhappy and very unfulfilled folks still searching…
To find out more, please see our post on Toddlers Activities that could positively impact your children.