Thursday, March 12, 2009

Whole Brain Learning

In a conversation with a friend about learning languages, I remembered my own struggle learning a language. I was going to visit Israel for a month or two, and needed to learn Hebrew.

There are Ulpan classes designed for quick learning, and I signed up a few months before the trip. But it wasn't until I was in Israel, living with people who pretty much didn't speak English, that my brain had to open up and learn.

I remember having a dream where I was trying to move out of an apartment, and the movers wouldn't lift a thing until I said the Hebrew word for "furniture" (not a word I normally used), and as soon as I said "r'hitim" they grabbed everything up and moved me. Since dreaming is in the right brain, but language learning is left brain---it's interesting that the dream was the breakthrough. After that, I was able to speak and understand much more Hebrew.

Come to think of it---when I was learning how to drive a stick shift car the same thing happened. I couldn't get it. Struggled and failed and failed and stripped gears. Then, one night, I dreamed about driving it. The next day I got in the car and drove like I'd been doing it for a decade.

So maybe there's a point where learning, which we try to do in the left brain, needs right-brain connection.

They do say that people test higher if they first imagine themselves taking the test in the room where it's given. And even higher if when they study (left brain again), they do that same imagining first---of being in the test room. Again, adding the right brain into the picture (so to speak).

I think it's true for anything: a whole brain approach gives improved results. It's all about exercising that corpus collosum, the bridge between the hemispheres, that gives us the extra step-up toward success, and happiness in our lives.