[Hooping.org’s Editor Philo Hagen gets thinking about how we think.]
by Philo Hagen
A quite proficient long-time hooping instructor and I were recently talking about a new student of hers that she was finding to be quite challenging. “My new students wants everything explained to them in the most minute sequential detail,” she explained, adding, “It’s driving me nuts. And as soon as they’ve achieved a new move even just one time they immediately want me to teach the move that comes after that. There isn’t a proper order to learning hooping, is there? And when I don’t have everything broken down enough for them verbally she just rolls her eyes at me. I really don’t know what to do.” I asked her some more questions and we talked some more about it. Ultimately we were able to come to the same conclusion. This was yet another one of those Right Brain Hooping vs Left Brain Hooping scenarios.
Scientists have been telling us for quite some now that we don’t all use our brains in the same way at all. In fact there is a hemispheric division in the brain itself between the left side and the right, and while there are those that seem to navigate both sides relatively effectively, most people tend to “function” in their lives using one side more than the other – or should I say we each prefer one mode or side over the other. Them scientific types have shown to us via experimentation that the two different sides of the brain are also responsible for different manners of thinking. So again, while some are equally adept at getting through the day utilizing both modes, generally speaking we tend to either favor left-brain thinking or right-brain thinking. The left-brain is all about logic, analysis, precision, accuracy. It’s objective. It views the world from the outside. Right-brainers, however, have a different focal viewpoint that zooms in on the aesthetics, feelings, intuition, creativity. The right brain is subjective. It’s on the inside looking out.
So when someone seems to excel in the creative arts, is excited about doing hands-on activities, and exploring and experimenting, they probably lean heavier on the right side of the brain. They’re a right brainer like me. And while right brainers are often quite skilled in these sorts of positive attributes, we are sometimes thought to be rather unorganized and easily distracted, particularly by the lefties out there. One of the reasons for this difference lies within the fact that we learn differently too. Right brain dominant people are visual and spatial learners and what may seem unorganized is merely the brain tapping into learning through visual clues, preferring to get all of the information at once, or even just the basic gist of it or idea, then to go about learning by doing and making it happen. We’re not big on observation because right brainers are subjective, not objective.
Being left brain dominant influences your learning style as well. Left brain thinkers tend to excel in math, language studies (yes, language is a left brain function) and logic problems. Are you great in math? Do you pick up foreign languages easily? Dr. Carolyn Hopper explains, “The left side of the brain processes information in a linear manner. It processes from individual parts to a whole. It takes pieces, lines them up, and arranges them in a logical order; then it draws conclusions.” Left brained thinkers like to make lists and have the fine details organized. They complete tasks in order and take pleasure in checking them off when each item on the list is accomplished. My hooping instructor friend has found herself within a very Left Brain oriented hooper, and she’s right brain by nature. Her student is frustrated with her because they are looking for all of the components clearly defined and presented in a logical order so they can learn more effectively. She’s frustrated with her student because she’s a Right Brainer. She learns and teaches hooping differently.
Take the Mercedes-Benz ad pictured above, for example. The text for the left brain reads:
“I am the left brain. I am a scientist. A mathematician. I love the familiar. I categorize. I am accurate. Linear. Analytical. Strategic. I am practical. Always in control. A master of words and language. Realistic. I calculate equations and play with numbers. I am order. I am logic. I know exactly who I am.” And the text for the right brain reads: “I am the right brain. I am creativity. A free spirit. I am passion. Yearning. Sensuality. I am the sound of roaring laughter. I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feet. I am movement. Vivid colors. I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel. I am everything I wanted to be.”
Then we ended up having more of a philosophical discussion about it. Given that we are both right brain hoopers who are classified as “body rockers”, meaning we love to have the hoop on the body with the music cranked rocking out with it, we began to wonder – is there a brain mode correlation at play here? Thinking about the Right Brain vs Left Brain learning styles, it would make sense that a Right Brain hooper would prefer to be inside the hoop making it happen (the subjective view), expressing themselves creatively through dance, putting their emotional natures into their physical movements. Meanwhile, Left Brain Hoopers might simply be more adept at off body hooping maneuvers (the objective view), focusing in on sequential patterns and drawing clean lines with definite precision. My friend eventually said, “I think we may have just stumbled onto something pretty big in terms of hooping and learning styles. Don’t you think?” To which I responded, “Maybe so. I think I’m going to have to pose this question to the community and we’ll find out.”
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003.