Building Bridges to a Better Future
This bridge is the corpus collosum, the fiberous tissue that connects the 2 halves of the brain. Brain research over the last 40 years has shown us that these two parts are very different from one another and process information differently. The right side, deemed the artist brain has been completely kicked out of the curicculum over the last 20 years and priority has been given to the left, logical and word oriented side.
In the last high school where I taught art for one year, art was considered the study of and appreciation of art, not actually doing it. When I had them do it anyway, I got reprimanded because a straight A student “couldn’t do it” and received a “C” on her first progress report. She could have easily improved with effort but because it would ruin her GPA, she did extra credit reports out of books and stopped her artistic development. I was forced to give her A’s. The other students took their artwork seriously and earned their A’s at the end of the year with big smiles of pride and accomplishment which come from building the bridge between the hemispheres with the neurons and snapses that are permanently created in the process to be used over and over again and added to as needed. This feeling gives one something called confidence. It cannot be taught, only experienced. The girl, by the way, graduated Valedictorian.
Thus we have everything that has to do with words and understanding words, spelling words, making sense with words, reading words, and writing words as the basis of our core educational structure, completely ignoring the other side where all of those words make sense to a larger world view. The right brain gives us a sense of belonging, an orientation to the world around us; a sense of knowing that has no words, no interpretation and can’t be tested. It deals with spatial arrangements, design, feelings and the images we hold about life, others and our place in it all.
Without the assistance of the right brain, all we have is data, figures, factoids, dates, names and numbers without a picture of how this relates to the whole. “Learning” than, has no relationship to Life and so you hear children answer the question: What did you learn in school today? with Nothing 9/10 times.
Building bridges to a better future involves creating a learning environment that is deeply meaningful to students. It involves students at their level of expertise, instead of instructing, for example, 1st graders to determine whether a noun is possessive or not. Years later, these children look at you with a blank stare when you mention grammar. They have “learned” that they are not good at it. The content has to have a context that is relevant to the student or it goes in as mumbo jumbo, later retreived as mumbo jumbo.
Children widen their world view in stages and understand the complexities of their lives in stages. They come up with the most creative ways of solving problems because they have not learned that things are not possible or that there is only a pre-scribed way of doing things. Notice the emphasis on the the word “scribe” in that what they can imagine carries more weight than what we impose on them with written material. They are all artists, imagining a world that they call into being, playing with ideas to find out which ones stick. And as one who keeps up with the latest in quantum physics can attest, the future can happen if you imagine it so.