A math(s) teacher from Australia recently asked me: " I am a maths coach of high school students and have 10 years experience as a senior teacher. Many of my students have a right brain emphasis so I am particularly interested how meditation etc can help their learning abilities"
Many teachers struggle with their students' preferred thinking styles. I have found meditation is key to dissolving this issue. Here is what I replied:
Higher order thinking is the combination of critical thinking (left brain) and creative thinking (right brain) skills and abilities. This definition points to both left and right brain thinking as the ideal state for all learning. Unfortunately much of the approach to maths learning is the belief that maths is strictly a critical thinking process based on algorithms and logic. Right brain thinking is not encouraged or even seen as relevant to maths, which is a possible cause of maths phobia in so many students.
It can be argued Meditation is the art of finding a neutral place between the left and right brains. When a student is given the space to experience this neutral place between the left and right brain they become more open and feel safer to explore things freshly. Focusing on this neutral place is equivalent to radical disengagement from the thinking process. When you are disengaged from the thinking process you observe your thinking rather than engage with thinking. This is foundational to developing metacognition (thinking about thinking) skills.
In this way meditation can help dissolve the apparent barrier to critical thinking by the creatives.
From my observations students are momentarily freed up from such limiting beliefs as; math is boring, this is stupid, I can't do it, I hate maths etc. Freed up of anti-maths beliefs gives the astute and sensitive teacher a natural opening to move forward into the lesson. My blog on organic teaching can give you a sense of how to keep this freshness alive in your students.
For more information on how meditation works in helping student learning go to my paper "The Phenomenology of Silence - Educing Learning and Creativity in the Classroom."
"Lawrence Carroll's workshop on personal stress management, which he conducted with my Columbia Grad School class
was a huge success."
Neal Pilson, Columbia University, Former President, CBS Sports