The Whole Brain Classroom - Approach to Teaching

WOW Sep 02, 2019

(In continuation of the last WOW article The Whole Brain Classroom - Introduction)

There are several elements to take into account to successfully implement the whole brain in the classroom.

The student

After gaining insight into your own brain profile and its implications, the next step is to understand the brain profiles of your students and what this would imply for you as an educator. To give you an idea of the combination of students that you have in your classroom daily, here is a summary of the likes and dislikes of the different quadrant groups.

The L1 learner likes precise definitions, to the point descriptions, factual learning, succinct summaries, opportunity to research and the use of technology. They dislike a vague, ambiguous and unfocused approach.

The L2 learner likes step by step instructions, timelines, detailed summaries, practical application and the opportunity to practice. They dislike disorganization, no practice time and poor sequencing.

The R1 learner likes brainstorming and free associations, visuals/ graphics/ diagrams, variety, opportunity to experiment, spontaneous participation and trying new methods and ideas. They dislike a slow pace, same old, same old and no overview.

The R2 learner likes personal stories, collaborative group work, role play, personal connection to content and non-verbal communication. They dislike an impersonal approach and no sensory input.

The educator that has mastered the art of whole brain teaching, makes sure that the expectations of all students are met in equal measure – notwithstanding his/her own brain preferences. This challenge is met head-on far easier when teachers embark on a programme to design whole brain lesson plans.

The whole brain lesson plan

Your lesson plan and presentation can greatly disadvantage certain students. The best approach is to incorporate all quadrants of the brain. A simple format could look as follows:

  • THE INTRODUCTION (a few minutes)

Create an expectation, a desire to know more:
L1 – mention some important facts
L2 – mention practical benefit/sequence
R2 – influence on people/personal benefit
R1 – big picture view


Digging deeper, fulfilling expectations:
L1 – give facts, do research, use of technology, how to find more information, analysing information
L2 – make/give summaries, practical application, practice knowledge
R2 – form small groups, discuss, active participation, demonstrate
R1 – visual aids, colour, opportunity to experiment, probe own ideas, new ways of doing, possible changes

  • THE CONCLUSION (a few minutes)

Opportunity to incubate:
L1 & L2 – short, well-argued summary of most important facts
R2 – benefit for man, how do you feel about this?
R1 – benefit for future, can this change, be improved, how? It has become clear in our programmes that once educators understand the whole brain approach, they easily apply this format right across all the different subjects.

The environment

Adults as well as children function better if their environment is aligned with their brain preferences. As adults, we are constantly creating environments that suit us (neat, haphazard, pretty, warm, unconventional, etc.). We often feel uncomfortable, even stressed in certain environments. Therefore, it is crucial to take a fresh look at the environments we create in our classrooms. Who benefits mostly from your classroom, who feels uncomfortable there, is it possible to create a whole brain classroom where all students can feel at ease and where optimal teaching can take place? Have a look at these classrooms.

This is a typical left-brain classroom - traditional, structured, neat, formal, time tables, categorized information.
This is an example of a right brain classroom – unstructured, chaotic displays, cluttered.

This is one example of how a whole brain classroom can be achieved. Information is available and mostly structured (L1). There are lists, timetable and containers to organize the space (L2), it is homely, warm (plants) and students sit in groups (R2). There is also a feeling of informality, it is colourful and has a lot of visual aids (R1).

The psychological environment

The psychological environment in the classroom is created by all the factors that make up the classroom. A positive environment is created if the educator gains insight into different brain preferences and applies this insight in all aspects of teaching. Here are a few examples to think about:

If the educator never makes the R2 learner feel wanted or cared for, refuses to listen to any personal stories, the educator will eventually lose the trust of this learner.

If the educator neglects administrative duties, ignores time schedules, does not complete tasks, and ignores rules, the L2 learner will feel insecure.

An inflexible educator, who resists new ideas, challenges and never creates a fun atmosphere, will alienate the R1 learner.

The educator who gives inadequate information, who does not encourage performance and never allows learners to share their own knowledge on a subject, will discourage the L1 learner. The basis for successful education is understanding the uniqueness of each learner and learning the skills of whole brain teaching.

About our guest author-

  • Kobus Neethling was invited to train the staff of Nelson Mandela, just after he became the First President of a new Democratic South Africa. The topic was “The importance of Creativity and Innovation in a new South Africa”. This was a great honour for Dr Neethling - regarded as the leading creativity expert in South Africa.
  • Dr Neethling was invited by the office of the prime Minister of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to deliver a presentation on “How to introduce and sustain Creativity and Innovation in the Organization”.
  • President of the South African Creativity Foundation
  • Holds six degrees including two Masters, a Doctorate and PostDoctorate (cum laude) in the identification and development of creative behaviour (Universities of Cape Town, Northwest and Georgia-USA)
  • Rotary Foundation Scholarship 1983/84 *
  • Has written more than 90 books and 9 TV series including a number of international bestsellers (Including ‘Creativity uncovered’; ‘Very smart parents’; ‘Taking you beyond’; ‘Love, sex and the brain’; ‘Creative rugby’ and the new version of ‘Am I clever or am I stupid’ which has sold more than 200000 copies)
  • Guinness World Record Holder: Co-author of “Making the Impossible possible”: the book of more than 100 pages written in the fastest time ever (four and a half minutes)
  • Has received 10 International Who’s Who Awards including Personality of the Year (2000); One of 2000 outstanding Scholars of the 20th century (1999: Cambridge England) and The International Who’s Who of Intellectuals Award
  • Received the 1998 International Leadership Award from the Creative Problem-Solving Institute, USA
  • Received the first International Creative Genius Award (2004) from the International Genius Academy (USA)
  • Developed the largest battery of Whole Brain Instruments in the world (used in more than 40 countries) including the acclaimed 8-Dimension Brain Model
  • International Silver Screen Award (for a TV episode called Creativity)
  • Worked with national and international sports teams since 1993
  • Member of the International Innovation Alliance – a group of 7 innovators from five continents - all international
  • Member of an international steering committee to research the possible integration of the two disciplines --- Creativity and Innovation (2009)
  • Works with major corporations, national sporting teams, and education groups from all over the world
  • Voted by Femina magazine as one of the six best presenters in South Africa
  • Co-developer of the Hit TV show “Out of the Box” --- WINNER OF THE 2007 ‘US INTERNATIONAL FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL’ SILVER SCREEN AWARD
  • Recipient of the Excellence in Innovation Award – one of the most prestigious innovation awards in Asia.

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Sunil Sathyavolu

Edupreneur | Eco Activist by Passion | True Hyderabadi | Movie Buff | Music Lover | Chess and Cricket