Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals understand that thinking is a large part of learning. As learning takes place in the brain, it is important to know how the brain works in order to make learning easier.
The brain has two halves called hemispheres. Thinking and reasoning takes place as the two hemispheres work together and communicate through a “cable of nerves” called the corpus callosum (The World Book of Study Power, volume 1, page 44). Since the corpus callosum is the communication link between the two hemispheres, any communication between the hemispheres stops when this “cable of nerves” is damaged. Much of the following information comes from the above referenced book.
The brain can, however, continue to operate in spite of the damaged communication link, but compensation must be made for the lack of communication. This is much the same as with other organs that are meant to work together, such as eyes, kidneys, and lungs.
Much of what we know about how the brain works comes from studying people whose corpus callosums have been severed for medical reasons; for example, to treat severe seizures. Scientists know a great deal about which apart of the brain does what, and how the brain handles each function.
When you perceive, weigh, recognize, or recall information, both hemisphere of your brain are at work. Each does its part in helping you respond to what’s going on. When you are cooking, for example, you use one kind of thinking to read the recipe. You use a different kind of thinking to have a hunch that you need less salt than the recipe calls for.
Of course, you may use one part of your brain more than the other when you’re doing certain things. When you’re folding laundry or balancing your checkbook, the areas that control the recall you need are at work. The same is true if you are drawing or looking at a work of art.
The human brain is such a miraculous organ that it does things automatically. No one has to think about which hemisphere will be used when doing a certain task. The brain has the ability to handle many complex tasks at the same time, and it “picks the option that best suits the situation.”
Depending on the situation, therefore, your brain may choose a certain type of thought pattern over others. This is true, for example, of emotional experiences. When you’re confused, panicky, or elated, your feelings may affect the way you think about and react to a situation. They may seem to block your ability to think at all. [Some of these situations are being nervous about an exam, frightened by noises in the dark, confused when meeting someone who says all the right things but something about them does not seem quite right, or getting lost and not knowing where to go.]
In situations like these, you’ve got to clear your mind and decide what to do next, despite your fear or panic. The same is true when you feel nervous before taking an exam or making a speech. To perform successfully, you have to think clearly in the face of threat. That’s the time when you can’t rely on your brain’s automatic pilot – you have to take over and make a conscious decision.
Parents can use this information about the brain to help their children understand better how their brains work. Understanding the need to clear the mind by controlling emotions could very well be helpful in keeping children physically safe as well as doing better in school.
In order to learn, one must use their brain, and this is accomplished through thinking. Critical thinking is an extremely important skill to learn whether or not one is still in school. A good sign that a person is actually thinking about a subject or problem is when they start asking questions. A question means that someone is ready to learn some new information. Individuals who understand that thinking and learning go together are in a position to strengthen their family, community, and nation.