On Facebook. On Pinterest. Unless you live under a rock, you’ve seen the tests and quizzes that purport to tell you whether or not you’re “in your right mind.” Maybe after a hard week of homeschooling, you’re not entirely sure. Or perhaps it’s our children who aren’t in THEIR right minds? 😉
You probably don’t need psychoanalysis to tell. It’s pretty simple. The left half of our brain controls most of the logical functions while creativity lies mostly in the domain of the right half. Those tests on the internet tell us what we probably already know–whether we’re more comfortable operating out of the logical, analytical half or out of the creative, intuitive half.
But here’s the deal–unless there’s something terribly wrong, everybody does have both halves of their brain! That means that we are ALL capable of both logical and creative thought. It’s just a matter of becoming comfortable using both sides of our potential brain power. This takes practice.
There’s also a trick that many find immensely helpful. While some people have brains that communicate rather fluidly between the two hemispheres, most people are more comfortable operating out of one or the other function. What does that mean? When writing a paper, for example, it is often helpful to separate the creative writing function from the analytical editing function. When you write, let the ideas flow onto the page from the right side of your brain. Don’t worry too much about spelling, punctuation, or sentence structure (analytical, left-brain stuff) until you get the story told. Then you can turn down the creative voices and turn up your internal editor to fix the details. When you’ve marked the rough spots, turn the creative volume back up to fix what needs fixing. There’s an interplay between the two functions of our brains–almost like taking turns in a polite conversation. The trick is to help our children realize that this is a normal process.
Too often we expect perfection, but there’s a reason the first draft is called a “rough” draft! It has been said that there is no great writing, only great rewriting. This is true of other disciplines, as well.
An artist first lays out the systematic lines for scale and perspective then goes back to creatively fill in the finished artwork.
A scientist analyzes existing data, creates theories, then returns to analytical mode to test the theories.
As we’ve learned about higher-level thinking skills, we’ve discussed analysis and evaluation (left-brain activities) as well as creativity (a right-brain activity). You can help your children identify the activities with which they are most comfortable, then encourage them to relax and give their minds time to play the mental ping-pong that creative thinking requires.