Thank you, Melissa, for your Ask a Tutor question!

A teacher recently told Melissa that her son is a “right-brained thinker.” Melissa emailed us asking for an explanation of what a “right-brained thinker” really means.

Although generalized, studies show that we all use one side of our brain predominately more than the other. I chose Catherine, one of our writing/psychology/humanity subjects tutors to help me out.

The learning style of right-brained thinkers will process information by starting with the answer. Their brain wants to see the big picture first. They do not like to read directions. They prefer to process information intuitively. They often have trouble finishing a project, and their brain will often not retain information given by lectures.

Right-brained students prefer to work in groups with interaction and activity. They want to experience their learning. Right-brained teachers will use hands-on activities, and incorporate art, visuals and music into their lessons. Both the right-brained teacher and student prefer a busy, active classroom environment.

Some known descriptions for a right-brainer would be disorganized, unpredictable, impulsive, creative, artistic and emotional. They will act on feelings before thinking. They are good with people, empathetic and philosophical. Keeping track of time is not important.

The learning style of a left-brained thinker will process information by taking pieces and arranging them in a logical order to draw conclusions. They like to process information in an order. Symbols, letters, numbers equations are processed easily. They like to deal with reality the way it is. When affected by reality or situations, adjustments are made easily. Open-ended style of questions can be confusing and difficult.

Left-brained teachers will prefer to teach by lectures and discussions. They will give problems to solve independently. They assign more research than the counterpart, and want a clean, quiet, structured classroom. The left-brained student prefers to work alone, with no background noise.

Some known descriptions for a left-brainer would be goal-oriented, organized, rarely absent-minded and a critical thinker. Their daily planners are orderly and neat. (Right-brainers often don’t have daily planners.) Feelings do not get in the way of making decisions. They are skilled at math or science and sequencing ideas.

If you ever wonder why you act the way you do, as complicated as that answer may be, we should not rule out that we are just using one of our brains!

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— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.