W O R D S F R O M T H
E R I
G H T - S I D E
-- O u r I n v i s i b l e C h i l d r e n
by C. S. Franklyn copyright (c) CSF 1993- 2000
FROM LABORATORY TO CLASSROOM
In an earlier chapter, I reported on a learning problem involving the training of wireless operators. Interaction between the two hemispheres was discussed at length. I have even suggested that school curricula could be designed to deal with the interactions between the Left and Right brain. We could develop ways to decouple the two halves under certain conditions: i.e., study these two modalities by separating them into their smaller, more manageable, parts.
From now on, we must begin to deal with human beings -- in all activities of learning and performance of skills, in a different way. The way that recognizes that our society is comprised of three kinds of adults as defined by their Dominant Brain Hemisphere.
Obviously, I am suggesting heresy of a highest order!
The Human Brain has been the body’s most
Why has science been reluctant to challenge this dark, mysterious world
of the Cerebellum, the Brain? Religious thinkers for centuries have
that our Soul may reside in the brain. It would be wrong, therefore,
say, to invade this exalted place. So be it!
Socialists look suspiciously upon classifying people based upon their mental state believing that everyone is equal in all things. Over a hundred years of public education has pretty well proved as children and learners we are not equal insofar as performing work whether it be physical labor or intellectual work. Those who worship at the Altar of Equality -- the Egalitarians -- have done serious harm to the way we think!
Given the "cerebral inertia" tolerated in American institutions, the day when all these things come together and Society begins to benefit from the L/R brain phenomena, could be decades away. This may not be all bad! Once we begin to highlight the importance of the brain and its development, the Socialists will demand huge programs to equalize the differences between the Brilliant and the Dull. Or they may pass a law forbidding any activity or study that might suggest that we are in anyway different from one another.
Some believe genetic engineering has the potential to do greater harm than good. The risk of human cloning does look very risky. L/R might be equally mishandled once it gets "on the street". Of course, this does not condemn the wisdom of identifying people by dominant modality so much as it indicates that everything we do seems to get hung up on distrust and demands for Equity where it cannot and does not exist. Equity is a non-existent attribute in the Natural World!
There is something suspicious about putting people in certain categories! Frankly, it is too late to equivocate. Our human problems are too numerous and complex to back away from this doorway into the Human Mind. A mentality-oriented society could diminish our fixation on race, color and creed. That would not be all bad! If political parties were reformed based upon our Mentalities and not color and religion, we would become a more truly democratic society.
The improper use of IQ tests comes to mind. The purpose of the ALGOGRAM -- a diagnostic tool for communicating with the Right half of our Brain -- may be a worthy concept but it may be flawed when applying it as a diagnostic tool to study the person with strong Right-modality. Thus far, I have not found this to be true. The benefits far outweigh the imagined liabilities. I have worked with people who have been very grateful for my positions taken regarding whether they are or were RMOs or LMOs. Keep in mind, you cannot willfully change whether you are an RMO or an LMO. You can only learn to live with your particular orientation. But that bridge must be crossed by the time you are fifty years old!
In the Right-mode world, we are never afraid to be wrong. We are afraid more of never trying new ideas and nurturing them even when their value is doubtful at the outset. RMOs are always dissatisfied with the Status Quo. That’s why they are despised and discounted by the LMOs who cherish the settled, devine atmosphere of the Status Quo world. Smart RMOs recognize that they must learn to know which things should remain and what things should be changed or even eliminated. Therefore, if you have your tongue in both cheeks by now, resolve to move on with us as we step farther and farther beyond where few have tried to go before!
L/R and OUR PERSONAL LIVES
Institutions may move exceedingly slow, but as individuals we can and should begin to relate these ideas of Left brain and Right brain function to our personal lives. In particular, unusual perception and learning problems within our own families may be met with greater tolerance and more understanding. Beware of quoting this book to teachers and administrators, however!
Naturally, there are those who believe that the lay Public should not be aroused by new things like L/R phenomena. This Elitist view has always prevented effective change in Education. Its adherents have the best of intentions but labor under a false impression that the common people should be exposed to new ideas only after the experts have agreed upon them. Had that policy been practiced vigorously in Columbus's day, we would all be living in Spain and Portugal still waiting for the boats to leave.
There comes a time when the work product must be taken from the Innovator. It is a fact of life in the world of research and development that, at some point, the brain child must be taken from the protective world of its creator -- the Inventor. Only then will its true worth and utility be confirmed.
In Education, the Elitist view is forever present. Nothing new will be tried on a timely basis in the environment where it is desperately needed. Especially, if it is an idea that shows promise and the NIH Factor (i.e., Not Invented Here) is high.
To some, Promise translates into Change and Change may alter the balance of power and authority within the present bureaucratic system -- not to mention the personal security of those who presently control that system. Of course, this is a phantom concern. Things are so fouled up in the Nation's education system -- especially its colleges and universities -- little note will be taken of such revolutionary findings in L/R research. That could be a Plus at this stage.
In training a person to copy Morse code, we had a classic case of the Verbal Left interfering with the Right brain which handles audio tones. We noted that as soon as the trainee begins to print the incoming message on paper, the Left brain reads it (via the Right eye) and tries to anticipate what word is coming next. This process of "anticipation" by the Left brain leads to "interference" which upsets the Right brain's concentration, and errors occur. The short term memory trace is cancelled as well. Ideally, when the operator has become competent, he will copy the incoming message using a method best described as "recognition without contemplation". There is no time to think when code is coming in at 30-60 words per minute. This is much like receiving a message via a computer bulletin board using a protocol that is not self-correcting.
What was needed in this case was a training strategy that prevents Left brain interference. The solution, you will recall, was to send nonsense messages composed of strings of five letters each. Actually, these were non-words: a mix of letters in word-like groupings which have no meaning. The Left-side will see this as gibberish as it is printed on the tablet, and it will make little sense out of it, hence, the "anticipation" routine does not commence. In fact, the Left brain may call the Right brain and say: “See what you can make out of this stuff!”
I have repeated some of the above because what is described is a perfect example of "decoupling" the two hemispheres by creating a "distinct intellectual block". It is a technique for altering brain function by improving conditions for the Right brain to take center stage and do what it is best able to do: solving problems that the Left brain is unprepared to solve. The ability to "decouple" the two hemispheres gives us a method for dealing with one particular hemisphere by using learning material that one hemisphere responds to best. Dr. Edward's "upside-down pictures" is an example.
Using this approach in teaching Morse code, the operator develops primary letter recognition to a high degree of accuracy and copying speed increases. Once the trainee is proficient in letter groupings of this sort, it is a relatively easy task to start sending regular words of any length without too much "mischief" from the Left brain This lesser inclination of the Left to interfere is due to a phenomena I call the "gradient" between the two brain processors. The "gradient" is high when the Left brain believes (i.e., senses) that the Right brain is not smart enough to do its job. The "gradient" effect is measured as "interference". It seems that an "index of interference" could be derived. It would provide a way to express the magnitude of the problem. If we could quantify this gradient index, we would have a powerful diagnostic tool.
Earlier, we noted that children with ADHS are being medicated with drugs to eliminate their attention deficit. It is obvious to me -- recalling my earlier discussion of how drugs alter the relationship of the Left and Right hemispheres -- that medicating these children does nothing more that temporarily modify the existing relationship between the two hemispheres. The specific attribute being altered is the "gradient" or the "interference". The "index of interference" is being lowered, possibly made zero. Unfortunately, this is exactly what drugs do. Such a solution is a sophisticated way to do what “chairing” used to do to youngsters who were hyperactive and unfocused. Ritalin is less obvious than confining a slow learner to his desk. It is hi-tech stuff and parents are more easily convinced that it will help their child. After all, taking pills for all kinds of problems is the American Way! High IQ pills will be on the market soon!
This entire drama takes place in the input phase just before memorizing commences. This point of maximum "gradient" (high interference) between Left brain and Right brain is the condition that seems to persist when new skills and new information is being introduced to the learner. When that gradient has been reduced to zero, the information or the new skill is said to be "understood". This is not true, however, if the gradient is lowered by using drugs. Gradient manipulation can be done by using techniques (for example, games, problem solving) that “engage” the Right brain in a healthy, friendly way.
Unfortunately, achieving real "understanding" of much of what is taught escapes a large number of Left brain learners. And LMO teachers are equally unimpressed. At this crucial point, where intellectual honesty might serve us well, it is suppressed. Instead, each generation of learners has found ways to circumvent the necessity of learning fundamentals. Worse, however, is the fact that they are allowed to get away with it!
As the process continues, the next generation of teachers and administrators adopt another set of lower standards of performance. Subjects are eliminated, the abandonment of homework is rationalized and lesson plans and resulting examinations are designed to assure that everyone passes.
There is no quality assurance program in our schools. Allowing teachers to examine their own students is fundamentally wrong. Allowing other educators to evaluate an entire school system for compliance to some standard of excellence, is patently unwise. The practice was discarded as a "bad business practice" fifty years ago by American business and industry. One would think that some cross-pollenation would have occurred over these five decades! But, alas! schools are truly bastions and fortresses, impregnable and unreachable by new ideas and concepts that are working well in other parts of our Economy.
The lowering of the bar on SAT's, though couched in typical academic verbiage, has been nothing more or less than a way of assuring a more agreeable score to forestall a revolt. In addition, it masks the truth about our educational descent to the next lower level of Mediocrity. How many levels must we tolerate? When will our teachers finally revolt? Don't hold your breath!
Do they care about instructional matters or have their unions convinced them that teaching pupils greater tolerance and understanding of Gays and Lesbians is more important than Math, Science, History and Geography?
No one seems to care about the downward spiral of standards because, in the first place, it was forced upon the schools when Integration brought the African-American child into the system in great numbers. Most Blacks were unprepared to compete in their new schools. The alternative was to lower the standards to their level. The theory was that all performance would gradually climb to where it was before. Bad theory! Very American, however! And, foolish to the extreme!
In reality, the net gain has been negative and the entire learning ecology is engulfed by other countering forces caused by forcing Black and White cultures to mutually assimilate apart. They, like water and oil, are immiscible! Neither group has been served well by Integration, per se, because each has had distinctly different problems and different needs. The full weight of blame for what our schools are today falls upon Civil Rights leaders, White politicians and the Supreme Court who engaged in this sorry experiment. Today, Blacks are making it clear that they want their own Tribal culture, schools, businesses, -- indeed, they want their own world but with all the guarantees of the American Republic! This dilemma probably will never be solved in a peaceful and intelligent manner.
We return, now, to how the young RMO/LMO types
to learning difficulties.
In the world of the RMO, when a procedure for manipulating numbers is not understood, some learners apply creative ways to obtain the right answer. Many LMOs either turn in poor performance routinely, work hard and get better or become adept at cheating. A small percentage are natural learners, some due to photographic memories. If this theory is true, then according to the hypothesis I am presenting, they are really RMOs. The Left-side usually defers images and photographs to the Right-side. But do they learn by "understanding" the subject? Understanding is the key!
No, there is a better answer regarding “quick learners”! They are in that small group, like those who are ambidextrous, who manage to operate like either Left or Right operators. They are in that pesky 10 % group that always prevent perfectly delightful generalizations.
During sixth grade Arithmetic, I had considerable trouble with subtraction problems due to what the teacher called "careless" mistakes. Each morning the first fifteen minutes following Bible reading and Pledge Allegiance to the Flag, we would have an arithmetic test. My friend Lester Livingston would complete his paper first, take it to the teacher and she would grade it immediately. He never missed a problem. No, with this kind of motivation, I certainly was not careless. If he could do it, I could, too! I always took the full 15 minutes because I knew I was slow.
Our classes where not assigned on the basis of IQ. Every child -- at least from the sixth grade up -- should have the privilege of competing with the Best of his or her contemporaries. Homogeneous groupings, used for the past fifty years, was the first giant step backwards. The World and our Society is a heterogeneous assortment of every kind of personality and intellect. Competition with the best is the one way children grow and succeed. Many pupils who have been kept in low-performance groups have no idea how terribly inept they are. That message is brutally delivered when they apply for a job or later decide to go to college. Periodically, schools should inform parents where their children “stand” in reference to performance by their classmates. In fact, they should use a Report Card system that provides the Distribution of grades in a class and show the ranking or position of each child. By "class" I mean a group of 25 to 50 pupils under the direction of a particular teacher. I do not mean the entire Sophomore class!
The rise of community colleges has occurred mainly because of the failures of our high schools. Once out of the restraining effects of contemporaries with strong negative attitudes about serious school work, some students will begin to succeed at the community college level. Why not get rid of the troublemakers in high school in the first place?
In my dilemma with subtraction, I could not resolve a conflict when "borrowing". This occurs, for example, when you subtract 2178 from 4631.
I insisted that until I understood what was happening, I would never get the right answer consistently. What was I borrowing and how can it only be a 1? The solution began by subtracting the 8 from 11. The procedure taught would lower the 13 to 12; 12 minus 7 was 5. Altering the top numbers when "borrowing" was not understandable. There was a conflict that prevented me following a consistent step-by-step solution. The real problem was that no one diagrammed a number based upon its units, tens, hundreds, thousands construction. The logical development of numbers, per se, was never undertaken in those days. This was a traumatic period in learning for me. Again, I rejected "rote" and tried to find "understanding" -- without much success.
Absent a proper understanding of number construction, I had no basis for understanding what was happening. Learning just did not occur. I am a non-rote learner which, incidentally, seems to be a clue as to whether a person is R-Mode Dominant. Those LMOs who use their short-term memory in school, manage to be successful enough to pass the tests. But they learn very little in the long term. To do so, "understanding the subject" is essential.
There was an alternate method my teacher, in desperation, showed me. Instead of changing the numbers in the minuend, let 4631 stand, and INCREASE the first number in the subtrahend by 1, then subtract. This method did not lower the numbers in the subtrahend. It worked for some reason, yet I was the only one to use it. Why did I improve merely by changing attention to the lower number? This is one example of many mysterious problems in learning. Was I the only one? Or were many others having the same problem but didn't care to admit it?
Later, discovery of a variety of similar problems proved conclusively that I "saw" things differently. Or, I did not see them at all. The fact that I did not "understand" the real process seemed to block normal memorization. In fact, I rejected memorization as a learning tool. I thought learning -- and retention -- was accomplished when the subject was "understood". Proof of understanding required demonstration, a feeding back of what I had learned.
Memorizing anything simply by "rote", in my experience, produces an undesirable form of memory. It has no basis for re-constituting itself if and when the fundamental lesson is forgotten.
I point out this subtraction case as an example of a learning situation which I now believe to be due to my Right Brain Dominance. Invariably, new information flowed from Right to the Left side. In this example, my Right-side did not comprehend "take-away" (subtraction) without understanding Why and How. Those pupils who were operating as LMOs processed the information directly into the Left-side where emphasis tends to choose "memorization" first and, if at all, "understanding" last! Successful RMOs, due to a much greater effort to learn, eventually remember more than LMOs. But, without expert help or a prodigious self-motivational effort, many RMOs just give up.
Information that flows to the Left-side via the Right-hemisphere, I believe, is seriously flawed or "corrupted". The memory trace when received by a Right-to-Left routing may be so small that it immediately decays. A more probable answer, backed by later experience, is that the R-mode "questions" or "challenges" all incoming data. It then puts its own "spin" or "mark" on it. Remember it has the ability to rearrange things; it has a creative drive. What it sends to the Left brain is its own version of the procedure. But this is fundamentally imperfect information. The theory, however, seems to be incomplete. The key -- already noted in earlier chapters -- was that information acquired by the Right brain is Primary input to that side and Secondary input to the Left brain. The significance of Primary input and Secondary input explains why a child locked in R-modality beyond the normal transition period, learns and retains less and less information. (See FOLLOW-UP: REFINING THE THEORY ON NDTS for more on the above subject)
One other possibility remains to be studied relative to this subtraction problem. It is possible that the Right brain is incapable of understanding the concept of “take-away”! Once I was shown how to use a method that adds a “1” to the subtrahend, I rarely missed a subtraction problem!
This reminds me of a teacher's questioning her 2nd grade pupils why the heads of people in their drawings were so large compared to the rest of the body. Because "that's the way people look to me", replied a little girl. If we could put ourselves in the world of the very young, we would understand learning much better. Similar things apply to numbers and the arithmetic process in young pupils.
More to the point, why was I "locked" into the
even when I was 14?