Left Brain, Right Brain, Whole Brain Education

Although it is commonly referred to as “Right Brain Education“, I think to call it “right” brain education is a misnomer. What we are doing with our children is not just developing the “right brain”.  Although it is the right brain that has the ability to perform these amazing feats, it is ultimately the left brain that turns these abilities into genius. This is the reason why savants – who have a damaged left brain – are able to demonstrate remarkable abilities but aren’t able to capitalise on those abilities.

To put it simply, having a fully functioning right brain is like having superior tools with which to create a masterpiece, but at the end of the day, the artist (the left brain) is still required to use those tools effectively to create the masterpiece.  In ordinary individuals, the right brain capabilities are restrained by the left brain, therefore they are never able to fully realise the potential of the right brain.  This is similar to an artist trying to create a masterpiece with inferior tools.  Similarly, although Savants have right brains abilities similar to those observed in geniuses, they lack the functional left brain to properly utilise their excellent right brain capabilities.  The fundamental difference between Savants and geniuses is that geniuses have both superb right and left brain capabilities.

So although Savant children perform amazing feats such as repeating what they hear verbatim, memorising whole contents of books such as “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire“, solving complex mathematical problems instantly, replaying musical pieces perfectly after hearing them only once, memorising things at a glance, replicating drawings in fine detail after looking at them once, and so on, they only achieve an IQ between 25 and 70.

What we are trying to achieve in early childhood with “right brain education” is to keep the right brain capabilities active. We are also trying to improve the communication between the left and right brains so that the whole brain can be used efficiently and effectively.

If it’s really “whole brain education” then why are we still calling it “Right Brain Education”? Unfortunately, Right Brain Education was the term that took off and the one that most people know it by. As such, we will continue to refer to it as Right Brain Education.

Source: Right Brain Education in Infancy” by Makoto Shichida.



Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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