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Mind Your Head Brain Training Book by Sue Stebbins and Carla Clark
by Sue Stebbins &
Carla Clark

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(Coral Lee/tr. by Scott Williams, SINORAMA Magazine©)

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"Mouri wears purple clothes and has blonde hair that shines like the sun. She has beautiful purple eyes, and her small body is only two centimeters tall. Mouri was born on July 15, the day my carefully tended morning glory first blossomed. . . ." This is nine-year-old Fumati Kasumi's story of her warm friendship with the morning glory fairy, a story which won Japan's Kikuchi Kan Prize for works of fiction by primary- and middle-school students.

Fumati Kasumi was a student in a Shichida School. This franchise of more than 300 schools is known throughout Japan for its unique method of "right-brain education." The method has fostered lively imaginations in many Japanese children. Shichida Makato, the franchise's founder, is the author of Super Brain Revolution, a Japanese best-seller. While the book has sold well here in Taiwan, it has also stirred up a great deal of controversy. Nonetheless, many attended the lectures presented by Shichida last October on his second visit to Taiwan, and a number of these attendees have since established experimental right-brain development classes.

What is "right-brain education"? Does it have anything to contribute to pre-school education in Taiwan? Should parents consider it for their children?

Su Lee-hui began teaching at a kindergarten in eastern Taipei at the start of last semester. On one Friday afternoon, the children sat in long rows, eight to a table, looking forward to a different kind of class. And Su, their teacher for this "different" class, delivered one, pulling out some pretty animal cards for a game. Everyone was given five different cards which were then laid out on the table in any order the children liked. After 10 seconds, the cards were turned over. A child would then try to recall the order in which the five animals had been arranged. The kids had a great time.

Last year, Su Lee-hui, a pre-school educator for more than 20 years now, retired from her position as director of a kindergarten. She then took a teacher training course on the "right-brain revolution" offered by the China Productivity Center last October. Su now teaches right-brain education as a volunteer at three different schools. "Kids love this class. They want to keep on playing even after it's over." Su says the memory game described above teaches children concentration and observation. After several months of experimentation, Su has come to the conclusion that such right-brain educational techniques are worthwhile.

The discovery of the right brain

The right-brain concept first began to attract widespread interest when Dr. Roger Sperry of the California Institute of Technology won a Nobel Prize for his work on the functions of the brain's hemispheres. Since then, the concept has been utilized in areas as diverse as education, business and medicine.

After years of research on "split-brain" epileptics (epileptics whose corpus collosum-a neural structure linking the two sides of the brain-has been cut to limit seizures to one side of their brain), Sperry discovered that the left brain is responsible for language, logical thinking and analysis. The right brain, on the other hand, seems to be involved with images, imagination and intuition.

The book The Right Brain was published at the same time. Translated into Japanese, it opened the eyes of pre-school educator Shichida Makato. He began investigating the application of right-brain functions to pre-school education, and developed a right-brain oriented teaching method.

Casper Shih, a former head of the China Productivity Center, was the first to invite Shichida to give lectures in Taiwan. Shih himself has applied the right-brain concept to the commercial sphere. In the ideas about "business culture" that Shih put forward a number of years ago, he suggested that people are changed by emotional stimuli, not rational argument. This is very much in keeping with the right-brain concept. And in his "right-brain leadership" concept, put forward two years ago, Shih takes his approach a step further, proposing EQ-based, creative management.

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