Beals, Katharine. Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World.
Random House/Knopf/Anchor/Three Rivers 2009 232 16.95 978-1-5903-0650-5 adult
Presents a case for accommodating socially awkward students who may just have an unexpected learning style. According to the author, these children generally will not perform well in the current collaborative social classroom setting. She presents strategies for parents to help adjust their learning environment and strengthen skills at home. Using multiple case studies the author gives examples of children who present as different from the norm in their social awkwardness and need for strict sequencing in their learning environment. She further claims that current educational reform with its emphasis on right-brain skills and collaborative projects interferes with the ability for these children to display their sometimes gifted abilities.
Within the label of left-brain children, the author also includes those with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities, high-functioning autistic children and those with Asperger’s Syndrome in addition to those that are very analytical. Not only do these left brained students achieve more in school with direct instruction, forcing them into groups and collaborative projects can cause mental and emotional distress to them.
Left brain children tend to be introverted, concrete thinkers and are unwilling to share personal information so shun the activities that require intimate personal response. They will not be comfortable if they are expected to connect what they learn to themselves. Finally,it is ironic that as much as vow to support individuality we really are a society that, “values social skills over academic accomplishment, extroversion over introversion, and group cooperation over individual accomplishment.”(5)
The author is highly critical of current curriculum trends particularly as they manifest in math and science. Also, in her opinion, there is too wide and somewhat vague description of personality types that are now considered a disorder. According to her research, in 1958 the total number of school counselors was 12 Thousand and school psychologists were rare in public schools. Today there are over ninety thousand counselors and thirty-five thousand psychologists in the public schools(30).
The strength of this book lies in the advice to parents on how to advocate for the child at school as well as strategies for working on some of the social issues.