Thursday, July 15, 2010

simultaneous dual awareness

Simultaneous attention is possible with the two hemispheres of the human brain, which is not a matter of schizophrenia, but the natural result of the divided brain, capable of paying attention to both fine detail and to broad involvement.

Years ago, I spent nearly every Sunday afternoon driving to Springdale, Arkansas to participate in a meditation group, and the group leader described "dual awareness" though which one could simultaneously attend to matters close at hand, and broader notions of one's "spiritual" connection. When Jill Bolte Taylor described right brain "nirvana" in her TED talk, she was describing the consequences of being engaged in that part of herself that exists without boundaries. Is there some major gulf between what neuro-scientists are describing here in two forms of attention, and what my meditation teacher friend described as "dual awareness"? Can it be that the dual awareness state created by meditation is a state natural to all humans and animals when we escape the undue dominance of the left brain?

What happens in schools in which teachers make a deliberate effort to engage both left and right hemispheres of the brain of each child, and their own. It is all a bit too spooky, spiritual to expect to see it happen widely in schools, and yet... With the right subversive attitude, it will.

What would happen if all teachers realized that instead of teaching 18 students at a time, they were teaching 36 different brains with 36 divergent attentions? Perhaps school boards, administrators and communities achieving such insight would reduce classes to a more reasonable size.

Tomorrow the ESSA "brain, hands and the arts" students will be creating lesson plans to deliberately engage left and right brains through the strategic implementation of the hands.

Today my ESSA students made planed shavings as evidence of learning, they made sloyd trivets, t-rex dinosaurs, and toy cars using their own imaginations. Photos at top and below.

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