I used to think that the main differentiation between right hemispheric and left hemispheric learners was that right brainers think mostly in pictures, and left brainers in words. That is true, but there are far more important distinctions between the two styles. Left brainers think in steps, while right brainers come to conclusions intuitively and in an almost backward fashion. As left brainers control schools, linear sequential processing rules the day, as note taking, showing steps in math, and rapidity of answer recall is valued above even the correct answers. The left brainer loves process, and is usually satisfied feeling part of a larger cog, and oftentimes makes a great employee, who is meticulous, detail oriented, but unable to view the whole picture. Right-brained learners crave the “Gestalt” of things and shoot right to the answer. They might actually go through a series of steps, but they are so fast that the visual learner is unaware that they are occurring, and is often unable to retrace them.

Another key difference between the two styles is that right brainers really need to see the relevancy of what they are learning, or they cannot learn it. Left brainers tend to trust in the curriculum, not ask too many questions about the subjects relevancy, and just do the work because that is what’s expected of them. In the old days, left brainers made great assembly line workers, farmers, and excelled at activities where repetition was king. Right brainers hate repetition, which they find boring and pointless, and many times hate homework, and showing steps in math or writing organized linear papers. They may excel at creative writing or doing math in their heads, but this is not valued by the present day school system; so they grow up feeling shamed and stupid, all because their learning style is not honored in most schools. This problem is more critical now than ever, as we have so many more right brained students. There will come a time when unless schools are completely revolutionized, they will have few takers, and online experiential learning will become the norm. When it comes to schools, change or perish, is the present day reality.

-Jeffrey Freed