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 quite challenging. “They want everything explained in the most minute sequential detail,” she told me, 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. And when I don’t have everything broken down enough for her verbally, she just rolls her eyes at me.” I asked my friend a few questions and after talking some more about it, we were able to come to the same conclusion. This was yet another one of those Left Brain Hooping vs Right Brain Hooping scenarios.
Scientists have been telling us for quite some 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 of us that seem to navigate both sides relatively effectively, most tend to “function” in their lives using one side more than the other – or should I say we each individually prefer one mode or side over the other. Those clever scientific types have also told us 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 loves exploring and experimenting, they, like myself, probably lean heavier on the right side of the brain. 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 leftie brainers 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 – the brain taps into learning through visual clues, preferring to get all of the information at once, or even just the basic gist of or idea of it, then off we go to learn it by doing it and making it happen. We appreciate that there are hooping tutorials out there, but we don’t really watch them for any sorts of specifics. We’re not big on observation because us 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. Dr. Carolyn Hopper says, “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 hoop teaching friend has a very Left Brain oriented hooper in her class, and she’s pretty right brain by nature. So it’s no wonder her student is frustrated with her because they are looking for all of the components to be clearly defined and presented in a logical order so they can learn more effectively. But that’s not how she learned or teaches hooping, so a certain degree of frustration makes logical sense.
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.” Meanwhile, 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.”
Given that my friend and I are both right brain oriented in our lives, it also got us wondering how much of a role this plays in both of us being “body rockers” by nature, meaning we love to have the hoop spinning on the body and rocking it out to our favorite music. Several of our more tech oriented hooping friends seem very left brain oriented in their lives and careers as well, and perhaps that influences their interest in hooping primarily off body as well with close attention to detail and precision. Given the differences in Left Brain vs Right Brain learning styles, it’s quite logical that a Right Brain oriented hooper would prefer to be inside the hoop making it happen (the subjective view), expressing themselves creatively through music and dance, putting their emotional natures into physical movement. While Left Brain Hoopers may simply be more adept at and enjoy off body maneuvers more (the objective view), focusing on sequential patterns and drawing clean lines. And someone who navigates both sides of the brain better than most may, as a result, have stronger interest and ability to be more well rounded, as it were. Not sure where you’re at? Why not try this quick little Brain Test and find out.
While we may never know the degree in which our brains influence and relate to our hooping experience, knowing our brain preference can open a portal to how we learn and experience the world and the hoop, to why we love to hoop some ways more than others – and to better understand and let go of frustrations when something may not be as easily within our realm. It can help us be better teachers as understand that we don’t all learn the same way too. So, are you a Left Brain Hooper, Right Brain Hooper or do you use both sides equally? Does your brain preference have an impact on your hooping? We’d love to hear about it so we can all better understand how brain preference impacts our hooping.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003. Co-Founder of the Bay Area Hoopers and LA Hoopers hoop groups, Philo has performed internationally and has won Hoopie Awards for Male Hooper of the Year and Video of the Year. He lives in Los Angeles, California, USA.