New approaches and tools in training
The human brain weighs 1.4kg (60 ounces) and is actually divided into two halves that communicate with each other all through your waking period through a bundle of some 200 million
nerve fibres called the corpus callosum. The lateralization of brain function is the tendency for some neural functions or cognitive processes to be specialized to one side of the brain or the other. These are more commonly known as the Left Brain and the Right Brain.
The Whole Brain Theory was propounded somewhere in the 1970’s. It focuses on the thinking preferences of different people and the finer nuances of the brain when learning.
And since then, this classic dichotomy of left-brain/right brain has spawned a whole range of notions about both logical and creative thinking.(Doubting Thomases pooh-pooh the WBT. To each his own!)
The left hemisphere is home to logic and analysis and is skilled in the rational and verbal dimensions. The right hemisphere, on the other hand, is conceptual, holistic, intuitive, imaginative and non-verbal.
Hugely popular the world over, it has shown incredible results. It can help you identify the best
practices in the class and make your training much more impactful and engaging. However, one must be extra careful when fleshing out such training strategies else it may simply boomerang..
Whole Brain training and learning is a scalable framework. And offers a platform for improved understanding and insight. Using Whole Brain methods in your training helps learners get stellar results when they can strategically leverage the full spectrum of thinking available.
VAK theory tells us that students retain and process information differently and have “preferred learning modes” that allow them to access information in terms they are comfortable with thus ensuring improved academic performance
The VAK Theory
Most people possess a dominant or preferred learning style: the visile, audile and kinesthetic.
Visiles are those visual learners who learn best when their sense of sight is engaged. They tend to
best internalize and synthesize information when the instruction is in graphic format.
Auditory learners are those who learn best when information is heard or spoken. They benefit from lectures, group discussion, and other strategies that involve talking things through.
Kinesthetic learners are hands-on, participatory learners who absorb information best through touch, movement and motion. Kinesthetic learners tend to engage all of their senses equally in the process of learning.
Can learners be pigeon-holed into anyone of these three learning modalities, in total exclusion of the other two? A resounding no! learning preferences cannot be demarcated into easily delineated.
schema. Happily, God didn’t make humans that way. He made them “multimodal learners” – people with a mixed and evenly balanced blend of the three styles. Hallelujah!
In leading educational institutions abroad, the VAK theory is used as a framework by which to design learning methods and experiences dovetail into people’s preferences:
Though there is no compelling scientific validity regarding new teaching styles, there is still abundant anecdotal proof that these techniques work, at times, way better than the old horse-n-buggy methods.
Whole Brain® Thinking divides the brain into four quadrants. Each quadrant represents a different part of the brain: Analytical, Practical, Relational, Experimental.
The VAK learning styles model provides a very easy and quick reference inventory to not only assess people’s preferred learning styles, but most importantly, to design learning methods and experiences that match people’s preferences.
To avoid getting too technical in my explanations here, I have over simplified this blog.
My very own experience (1983 – 2005)
My very good childhood friend, the late Guetty Kaula, a part of Delhi’s Who’s Who and who finally settled in the USA in the late ‘70s, introduced me to the enchanting world of WBT, VAK, NLP and other learning and performance theories. He graciously agreed to fly down to Mumbai from LA and help me introduce the new instructional strategy the PR students of Xavier Institute of Communications, St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. He took a full day class. The results as expected were delightful and enormous. I was thrilled! I My earlier doubts about the techniques vanished that day itself. Everybody was bursting with 60 watt ideas!
At the end of the workshop Guetty and I celebrated with a cutting chai at the iconic Xavier’s canteen.
I had a marvelous ring side view of how students happily assimilated even the most boring parts of a talk even at the fag end of the day. Almost right through, they were at the edge of the seats, not literally though!
Whole Brain® Thinking divides the brain into four quadrants, each quadrant representing a different part of the brain: Analytical, Practical, Relational, Experimental.
Why of course, we all have these quadrants. God forbid if we don’t! It is because we possess a hybrid of these quarters that we are better able to move forward purposefully in life. WBT advocates that we all have a preferred way of thinking, most of us don’t even know it! Some of us like to be divergent, creative thinkers. Others, convergent, logical thinkers (facts only, please). Still others, the mixed dominants (gods favoured ones, I suppose!) are twice blessed with both imagination and rationality. Close observation will reveal students displaying stellar performance in certain areas whilst being sluggish in others. WBT urges educators to implement robust learning methods that exercise all areas of the brain where possible. So, that learners employ the dominant side of their brain, while at the same time stimulating the less dominant hemisphere. In turn, it makes your training more engaging, caters to all learners and increases their chance of success.
Whole Brain® Thinking in Learning
If you’re into L &D, it’s unlikely you’ll know which learning style suits your learners – particularly if you’re in a management institute where the batch keeps changing every semester. Forget if you think that your entire class of 50 or so fit into one, single segment. No way!
The challenge here is to impart training that reaches out to all – or at least a majority, say 80 percent. You might wonder is this were really possible?
All you do is to engage every part of your learner’s brain. Through the judicious use of accelerated learning techniques, you can incorporate different elements into your instruction that engages the dominant modes of the learners whilst allowing them to develop their less dominant parts.
I have done it.
Again and again and again!