Monday, April 10, 2006

Thinking In and Out-of-the-Box

Along the lines in yin & yang, here's a left vs. right brain finding suggests parallels in other systems, like conceptual vs. perceptual learning, convergent vs. divergent thinking, or global vs. local.

A clear split was seen between interhemispheric difference was seen whether details were recalled within visual categories or visual coordinates (parts, spatial relationships).

It's interesting to think about how the education process would change if we put our students rigorously through the processes of thinking both inside and outside of the boxes when they analyzed any new information - visual, verbal, factual, or interpretive. As we grow older, the natural process of learning (or so it seems; e.g. cat study in Forgetful Learners post below) drives us toward more categories - which allows us to function more automatically or efficiently (we don't have to think), but also prevents us from seeing as much.

People who try the exercises from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain for the first time are often amazed how much better they are at noticing (and therefore drawing) features if they don't thinking about what they are drawing (global) or label it with words. Avoiding categories or labels is a common strategy for many creative brainstorm exercises.

Practice seeing or experiencing more out-of-the box on a regular basis. Maybe you could make a point of sharing what you do with a child or novice. It could give you a fresh perspective.

A number of studies (like the one below on mathematically gifted adolescents) have suggested that interhemispheric thinking is associated with more higher levels achievement and / or creativity within a domain.

Categorical and Coordinate Visual Memory
Interactions Between Conceptual and Perceptual Learning
Global vs. Local Processing
Mathematically Gifted Adolescents Interhemispheric
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Exact vs. Approximate Problem Solving
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Forgetful Learners
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Easy and Hard Problem Solving

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