I’m Not Right-Brained After All

right left brain

Neuromyths are false beliefs about the brain. Some of them have affected the ways we teach and try to learn.

An article from The Chronicle’s Teaching Newsletter pointed me to a report on “Neuromyths and Evidence-Based Practices in Higher Education.”

One of those myths is one I was a believer in a few decades ago. According to the report, it is one of the most widely believed neuromyths: that students learn best when they’re taught according to their preferred learning style. This idea emerged in the 1970s and led to articles, books, and approaches to teaching that often focused on learning styles (such as visual or auditory learners) and led to the idea that some of us are right-brained and some of us are more left-brained.

The report states that there is no evidence to support the idea that people learn best when taught in their preferred learning style.

Back when this was a popular theory, I had come to really believe that I was right-brained and that explained both my problems with math and my more creative interests and abilities. I was a visual and auditory learner for sure. Not so, says the newer research. Actually, that teaching or learning based on a learning styles approach may hurt students who then would seek only information presented in a particular way.

This debunking of the myth of learning styles is not breaking news. It has been around for about a decade itself.

Learning styles and right/left brain styles are not the only neuromyths. Another one that I have heard since I was a child is that “we use only 10 percent of our brain. ”

The report also suggests that some commercial products for the brain and learning (brain games, for example) might encourage the belief in neuromyths.

I will say though that I still enjoy and refer to my copy of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain as an interesting approach to art. Research be damned.


Read and download the full report at onlinelearningconsortium.org/read/international-report-neuromyths…

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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