Monday, April 21, 2014

The Right Side of Normal....

  I just finished reading The Right Side of Normal by Cindy Gaddis .  Though I don't agree with every recommendation in the book, Ms. Gaddis has some valid points.  Below are a few quotes I found intriguing....

"Right-brained children love to learn, hate to be taught.  Resistance is often a natrual response to being taught in a manner not conducive to how they learn or not connected to a meaningful need or desire to know.  That said, when the right resources and timing are utilized, a right-brained learner is actively and eagerly engaged in the learning process.  In fact, they are often insatiable learners."  (The Right Side of Normal, Cindy Gaddis, pg 149)

"Because of the left-brained scope and sequence found in our schools, as a society we are conditioned to believe that the 'correct' age to learn to read is in the 5 to 7 year old age range, a range that includes first grade at its center.  We even use the comparative descriptions 'early reader' if a child learns in the 3 to 5 year time frame and 'late reader' if the skill is attained between 8 to 10 years.  This is false conditioning.  The truth is that it's within the norm to learn to read anywhere from 3 to 12 years old.  That age time frame of 5 to 7 years is simply the average norm for a left-brained learner and the age time frame of 8 to 10 years is the average norm for a right-brained learner."  (The Right Side of Normal, Cindy Gaddis, pg 201)

"The right-brained learner is most ready to learn arithmetic starting between the ages of 8 and 10 years old, after the 'age of shifting' from primarily viewing everything from a three-dimensional perspective, to the ability to include two-dimensional symbolic processing."   (The Right Side of Normal, Cindy Gaddis, pg 243)

In her book, Gaddis continues with right-brained learning in many other core subjects such as writing, spelling, history, and science.  In the last section of the book, Gaddis addresses common labels given to right-brained learners.  I appreciate the time and energy Ms. Gaddis' put into her work.  But I struggle with polarizing right and left brain learners to this extreme. 

I don't necessarily agree with Gaddis' ideas in chapter 16 on exposing right brain students, particularly young children, to mythology.  I believe we must steep our young children in Biblical principles before exposing them to what is false.  Any child who is regularly read Bible stories, folktales, and Aesop's fables will gain vivid mental images and ideas for "creative expression".  

I also disagree with Ms. Gaddis' comment on page 209 against the Charlotte Mason teaching methodology for right brain learners.    If children are exposed to comic books, manga, and magazines regularly rather than great living books, their tastes will prefer the glossy spreads and visual images.  However, I believe if children are exposed to great living books, they will acquire a taste for them instead.  I feel this is true for children and adults, whether right or left brained.

With that said, I also believe there is a time and place for magazines and comic books, but I would caution against them being a primary source of knowledge.  In our world, visual stimulation is everywhere.  It is not necessary to seek it out.  If your student struggles with reading, I recommend reading great living books aloud to them or finding audio versions through media.  Exposing your student to beautiful and rich language will advance their vocabulary and imagination.

Even though I don't agree with everything Ms. Gaddis writes, I do think there are enough gold nuggets in The Right Side of Normal to make it worth your time. 

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