Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Month 9 Week 2: No right brain left behind?

A fellow mom friend invited me to a trial Glenn Doman class last weekend. Curious, I took B along for a 1:15 hour fun, fast and furious "right brain" lesson at Gymnademics. Affiliated with Doman's Institutes For the Achievement of Human Potential, the bambino class (5 mos - 1 year) mainly covered bilingual language (English with a little Mandarin, conversational and thematic words), psycho-physical (visual tracking, lifting, twirling, balancing, pull-ups, backflips, group interaction) and music and movement activities.  Flash cards were a key tool as they believe the right brain functions at a high speed, registering input as images and processing them all at once, so the faster the stimulation, the more the brain is activated. This was a new experience for us and I was somewhat skeptical that the babies remembered, let alone understood what they saw at the pace the cards were flashed - surprisingly though, most did pay attention. I was also informed that the class basically introduces a set of prepared activities which parents are then equipped to replicate daily at home. Overall, B managed to stay focused, even enjoying some of the stimuli.  More importantly, it got me thinking about the merits of engaging a child's "full brain" esp. in the early years, plus ideas to incorporate at home, e.g. building up his vocab with real, beautiful pictures and big clear words, using slides or my iPad to make homemade flashcards.

There seem to be three main right brain schools:  Glenn Doman, Shichida Method and Heguru.  In Asia, success - be it academic or work - has typically been associated with left brain abilities such as analytical and critical thinking, and right brain abilities such as conceptual and creative thinking have largely been the domain of a niche group (artists, designers, consultants, etc.).

No surprise that these rational, competitive based skills are dominant in local formal education from 6 years on.  However, even kiasu Singapore has acknowledged that this system could be outdated in the future and possibly marginalise or minimise the potential of talented children at present.  While encouraging, the bigger the change, the bigger the resistance and it'll probably take years for the local education system to truly evolve.  Meanwhile as parents, we could also reflect a more wholistic brain approach at home with our kids under 6 years (or enrol them in preschools that support this).  I'm not yet sure about joining further Gymnademics classes as I have questions about Glenn Doman's approach and results.  It would be good though to supplement the open ended Reggio inspired play that B's been exposed to at the Blue House until he starts Pat's toddler program next year. Maybe we'll check out Shichida next....

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