Have you heard of The Big Think ? It’s one of those weekly email subscriptions that I signed up for on the basis of one single article – and have been finding little gems each time it drops into my inbox.
Last week, one of the highlighted articles in the email was Left V Right Brain, with the author encouraging everyone to “give up the idea”.
It’s ingrained in our lexicon, that I’m a musician so I’m completely right-brained, or I’m an engineer so my left brain is dominant. Which never actually made sense to me, since I am someone who is comfortable with language and languages, but I tend to approach problems in a very linear and directed logical way. According to that theory – I’m neither right nor left brained.
Reliance on some obscure classification of self as being “left brained” or “right brained” is actually a hindrance to learning. When you think you are ‘hardwired’ to be “good” at one thing over another – you have already created that little kernel of doubt, the one that makes your subconscious send that little voice into scream mode as it starts with the “neener neener you can’t do it”. And, if you are like me, it may have given you more than one moment of temper and utter frustration.
According to the hierarchy of Left Brain – you are most skilled and tend to work best with logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy, processing input and facts in order, and tend to be list makers. Well – I know I process things in order – just perhaps not the order everyone else would expect. And lists? I’ve always made lists after forgetting some essential element needed for an activity once too often. It’s not my left-brain speaking, it’s purely self-defensive and organizational.
If you are Right brain dominant, you tend to excel in the creative arts, are excited about doing hands-on activities, and exploring and experimenting, and are very verbal. But I also have a finely tuned aesthetic, one that often causes me to stop and just look at something that strikes me as beautiful or wondrous.
And there is my issue. I have not ‘developed’ a sense of wonder, an ear for language and accent, the ability to process situations with logic, or even a fascination with experimentation. I’ve always had them, just tuned them with experience. I never would ascribe to being just “left brained” or “right brained” when pushed to answer – I always had a caveat. Now it seems that I was correct in adding it.
And that also reinforces my notion that focusing specially on right or left brain dominance is more of an urban myth than a reality. More people are a mix of the two, and with science and experimentation creating new inroads into the function of the brain the ‘classification’ of people as “all one or the other” becomes less valid and helpful.