22 October 2014
Did you ever watch a child draw a squiggly-straight line topped with a circle, and name it flower? Or name it an “i”? or a balloon? Or all of the above? Children’s minds run free. Some kids count the lights on a bridge and imagine the line extending into infinity, a most useful bridge indeed. Other kids see the lights on a bridge and imagine kingdoms, and fairy dust, and alternate constellations.
Some kids get where they’re going by cutting right to the chase. Other kids get where they’re going by considering all the possible details they observe or imagine. Neuroscience tells us that while most people use each side of their brain for different tasks, some people mostly rely on the left hemisphere of their brain, and others rely mostly on their “right brain.”
Are you (or your child, partner, friend) a right brain creative, making wholes from parts? Telling stories to give life to objects? Using metaphor to describe and connect? What about a left brain, logical, direct, systematic, straight to the point of the story type? Do you visualize a chair before you choose wood and pick up a hammer? Do you hear the whole melody before you start to play? Do you see the outline of the paper, the structure of the bridge, before you begin the work? Or do you observe a messy multiplicity of parts and craft a ray of potential whole pictures, making meaning of shadows and colors, seeing faces in flowers and branches, seeing feelings and meaning in faces? We associate all these activities with the Right Hemisphere of the brain. Right brain people, stereotypically, express emotions more easily, are more passionate and compassionate, are more open to the possibilities, less decisive, less direct, less systematic and less organized than Left Brain people.
We can foster creativity in Left Brain people by using their strength: Ask them (or yourself): How many possible combinations of (e.g. blooms and branches) can we use to make a face? Write a scheme of possibilities A = eyes: B= nose: C= mouth; D = ears: A = nose, B = ears, etc.
We can foster systematic (left brain) thinking in Right Brain people by using their strength: What do the faces that you like have in common with one another? How are they different from the ones you like less? What are 5 steps you might use to teach somebody how to make a #facethefoliage?
We can all train our brains to use both sides, and we can celebrate our own natural gifts when we know how to recognize them.
*Dr. Bubbie is my amazing mom and a Harvard-trained psychologist. You can leave your questions for Dr. Bubbie about life, motherhood, family, relationships and friendships below and we may pick your question to answer in the next installment of Dear Dr. Bubbie.