How We Learn & Remember
This article was written by Dart Ridenour to describe the purposes and goals he believes are possible from the knowledge we have today on how children and adults, learn and remember. You may reference this article without any changes for legal purpose. Mr. Ridenour and the web address (www.multiplicationeducation) must be sited.
This is part 1 of 3.
A camera saves a picture of the world as it is. We begin with the record the camera sees and we add to this our hopes and thoughts for the future, these become the wonderful daydreams we have for ourselves and our children. The results of these dreams are the goals we design, the architecture, and the plans for our lives. Dreaming isn’t enough; we have the unique capacity to create our own environment. To change dreams into reality, requires an education that, at a minimum, is equal to the quality of the dreams. Don’t settle for today’s camera world, it is not good enough. Inspire and motivate your children to have a passion for learning and their learning will never stop. The dreams you have today for yourself and your children are the beginning of a new tomorrow and today is the time to begin.
The Multiplication Education Book
You may remember from your own experiences as a child, that children will change games and do activities in an unexpected way. These changes were probably suggested by the leaders of the group to make these activities more compatible with their personalities. Psychologists have established two dominate groups and, allowing for some overlapping between the groups, children can be places in one of these. Identifying a child as either “left-brain” or “right-brain” does not establish a forever category. They may bounce, like a rubber ball, from one to the other several times.
To begin learning a new subject, the left-brain child is usually helped with a very brief description of the subject and why, in a sentence or two, knowledge of this type will be useful. Then they want to begin, “Just show me where to start”. They like workbooks with a text that describes what is being learned. They will usually adapt to interacting with a computer based learning program and they often enjoy taking the pop-quizzes to check their progress. They may prefer to work alone or with one or two others with similar interests and abilities.
The right brain child is not always an opposite in every respect, but they may need to be introduced to learning something using worlds like; “interesting”, “helpful”, or “you’ll be glad that you learned this”, without giving any reasons as to why this should be. Rather then a brief description of the subject, the attitude is, “Surprise me, when do we start?” As their learning progresses they may want to talk about what they have learned. They may do best working with a small group of up to about six children, with a lot of back and forth talking, talking that is often unrelated to what is being learned. They may want to show what they have learned by making a banner, a poster or some other project as proof of their new knowledge. Learning by interacting with a computer? A computer is a machine, are you crazy, forget it!
A teacher or a parent trying to get a right-brained child to learn the way a left-brain child learns has a nearly hopeless task. It can be done by modifying the procedures and then getting the child emotionally involved in this “new” learning process. A normal classroom will have students of both learning types and probably students with mental and physical dysfunctional problems, the combination of which makes teaching and learning difficult for all concerned. As a result, because the left brain child can usually accept and learn if taught using right brain teaching methods, and because the problems students will almost always learn best using the right brain procedures, classroom teaching up to the 4th or 5th grades is usually planned for the right brain child. As the more logical sciences are introduced and as many of the subjects become more difficult, the curriculum is changed to favor the left-brain students while keeping as many of the right brain procedures as possible.
In these early years the achievement grades are probably about the same for teaching all using the right brain methods as opposed to separating the left and right learners and teaching them accordingly. The left-brain learners will welcome and easily adapt the changes in teaching methods at about the 6th grade. Care must be taken by the teachers and parents to make this transition as “comfortable” as possible for the right brain learner. Unless the student has, or can develop a strong interest in the subject, they may never make the transition. We are confident in believing that there are many right brain learners who are doing brilliant work in traditional left-brain occupations. Therefore, we encourage parents and teachers, as much as is possible, to teach in a way that is naturally rewarding to the student.
It is amazing that even after numerous recent research studies on how the brain works, the human brain is still one of the most mysterious parts of our bodies. Someday the elusive goal of taking a “smart pill” in the morning will make everyone a genius for the day. I’m not holding my breath. But, with the knowledge we have today, it should be possible for every student who has a normal brain, to achieve a minimum A average using today’s grading system, in all subjects starting at about the 6th grade through high school.
Six years of straight A or A+ grades. To achieve this goal would require that the subjects taught in these grades would be presented in such a way that all the left and right brain children could understand, accept and learn. Unfortunately the lesson plans and teaching methods are very different. Ideally the school system should provide parallel classes for the same subject but the cost of doing this would be enormous. The result is a compromise, which, we believe, should favor the left-brain methods.
I can not image the difficulties of taking a right brain learners, an “A” student in high school, who has never been exposed to left brain teaching, put them into an organic chemistry class at a college or university and then expect them to get a passing grade of C or higher. It is probably not an impossible task but it has to be close to impossible. It is never too late, but it takes time and effort to change from the social and group learning of a leisurely paced and emotionally guided right brain curriculum, to one that is relatively fast paced and is based on concepts that are presented in text and reinforced verbally by the instructor. Some of these classroom sessions are intense and the bell rings for the end of the class just as the last word is spoken. A successful left-brain learner would leave this class thinking, “Wow, that was great!”
Unless you are interested in continuing your own education, you may not be able, or have been able, to make the choice for yourself, right or left, but you have the opportunity to do this for your children, especially if you’re planning on home schooling. Now, some children are never going to be left brain learners just like some are never going to be right brain learners. That’s OK. We need right brain people just as we need left-brain people in our society, we just don’t want everybody to be a right or left-brain person.
These concepts are not fixed they are flexible. Generally speaking, who do you think the people who invent things are? What about the CEO of a large company? If you have a small business that’s growing and you want to add someone to help, would you go for the right or left? If you need more sales you might go right, but if the need were in accounting and finance, maybe left would be best. What about a surgeon to repair a broken arm or a nurse for an elderly parent?
Regardless of you initial response, all of the above, could be designated as either right or left brained and all of them can be a success and pleased with their work. The key to a rewarding career is not fixed by the configuration of their brain today, but the key may be found in the early years or their education. That is, they were taught in a way that was in agreement with their personalities, they enjoyed learning and they were happy in the school environment.
If you want to do it, you know the personality of your child; you can help to create a learning process that your child will enjoy. Also remember that children often move back and forth on their own, sometimes depending on their friends or the changing goals they have. As a parent you need to be aware of and accept these changes in your child. There isn’t a best choice here and if you are home schooling, try both. If the child begins to show problems in learning, talk to them, you may be expecting too much or you may need to try a different teaching method.
If you are teaching of class of 20 or more children, you are probably using instructional materials that encourage learning using both sides of the brain. This “middle of the road” approach is used in most schools, especially in the lower grades, because it works. Unfortunately, the student with an above average intelligence, with either left or right brain learning abilities, may feel ignored, and their natural passion for learning may be compromised.
The Multiplication Education book can be used by all of these students. The book was written so that learning the multiplication facts could be self taught or used as a home school text. Left brain, right brain and intellectually gifted students can learn at a rate that pleases them. All students can review and reinforce their learning as often as needed. If they get some of the answers interchanged, saying the rhymes and looking at or visualizing the pictures will correct the mistakes. The most common mistakes are interchanging the answers to 7 x 8 and 6 x 9. The location of the numbers, the colors, rhymes and pictures will quickly correct this. In this example everything is different and once learned, easily remembered.
Right and left-brain students will appreciate the stories and how the stories, rhymes and pictures come together. Learning doesn’t become any easier than this. Each number has a logical place on the grid. Each number has its’ own color. Each fact has its’ own story and each story has a rhyme. Every child will discover the combinations that they will easily remember. When they forget or get the numbers turned around, they will think of the combinations that worked. This will lead them to the answer and they will know the answer is correct.