Published on 8 June 2018 by Edu Aid | For Parents
This article is a sequel of the article “All You Need to Know about Right Brain Training”. The first article is a more objective article, providing you most of the information you need to know about right brain training. While many parents rush to sign their children up for right brain training, let’s take a step back, open our minds and perform a deeper assessment of such training programs. So here goes – what the skeptic says about right brain training. Before you continue, if you are unsure of what right brain training entails, you are encouraged to read the first article on right brain training lest you find yourself lost here.
First and foremost, let’s be clear about the functions of the right brain and left brain. Our academic performance depends more on our left brain. A person with a stronger left brain will be strong in reasoning, logic, language, number skills. A right handed child is likely stronger in his left brain. The right brain is the more artistic side of the brain. Its functions include intuition, music awareness, creativity, imagination and holistic thoughts. A left handed child is likely to be stronger in his right brain.
Back to the main question – if the right brain is about music awareness and artistic expressions, what has flash cards got to do with right brain training? This is a serious question because flash card is the backbone of most right brain training curriculum today. Just do a quick search on Google “flash card right brain training”, you will be flooded with so much content from right brain training institutions on how flash cards work for right brain training. However, how many of us question such a methodology to develop artistic awareness? Some parents or marketing reviews boast of the effectiveness of flash cards in getting lots of information into the child’s knowledge bank at high speed. However, is this really about the workings of the right brain? Is the right brain about fast absorption of information?
So many right brain training curriculum include the training of ESP. Does making a child do more guessing work improve his guessing ability? If that’s the case, the child that guesses his MCQ questions all the time should just focus on training his guessing skills rather than learning the right way to answer the questions. Enough said, you get the point.
The curriculum in right brain training is extremely academic (ironically since it’s the left brain that builds the academic capability!). Right brain training entails grammar work, poetry recitation, learning about periodic table, space, animals, etc. There is minimal training on art, or any other expressions like drama or dance. Some training includes the using of musical instruments, but these parts are merely like the icing on a cake. They are not the main thing. The main portion that takes up the most time and daily practice given at home are all academic focused. Why do we focus so much on academics to train our right brain when a strong right brain should really be about a deeper appreciation and better expressions for the arts and music?
There is a common misconception that kids are smarter after right brain training. Or at the very least, they perform better academically because they can absorb more information at higher speed than their peers. However, if you look at the functions of the right brain again, it is not meant for you to absorb information at high speed. For good artistic expressions and appreciation, the right brain may help to pick up and understand certain nuances that are not literally expressed. This may help in subjects like English Literature, but will not be useful for Math and Science. In fact, it could potentially impede your Math learning because you can potentially get to the answer based on your strong intuition but not be able to figure out the workings to get there.
So the question – why must we train our right brain? Some people are just born with a more dominant side of the brain. Our education system is currently quite balanced in ensuring that different children can perform at their own strengths. Students who graduate from Arts subjects may not earn as much as Science subjects in Singapore, but these students are definitely not short-changed in our schools. They are given due recognition for their strengths. Therefore, it is closer to a myth to believe that our schools focus too much on left brain development. Must we balance our right brain development and left brain development?
This article may have stopped you if you are on the verge of signing your child up for right brain training. However, this should serve more as an alternative thought. We can’t say for certain that there is zero benefit in the current right brain training curriculum. At the very least it introduces your child to various concepts at a young age, and that is interesting for a curious child. However, just go with minimal expectations. Your child is not very likely to turn into a genius or the next Picasso just because he goes for right brain training. If he becomes one, however, perhaps you can give more credit to his inherited genes.