Brian Hill MA (Edin) Mar
Over the last 25 years we
have more than doubled our understanding of how the brain works. All the
new research is good news for humans, but it severely dents many long held
First of all, intelligence is not fixed at
birth. It can, and should be developed throughout life from childhood to
Second. Intelligence does not deteriorate
with age. We do not lose 30,000 brain cells every day, or every time we
have a beer or a whisky, though an excess of alcohol or drugs can cause
brain cell deterioration but so too can the stress hormone cortisol.
Third. Intelligence isnít even a single
entity. Professor Howard Gardner of Harvard has identified 7 different
types of intelligence, two in the left hemisphere of the brain, what I
call the masculine brain and five on the right hemisphere, what I call the
feminine brain. The masculine intelligences are maths/logic and
linguistics and until the mid 80ís were still regarded as the only
intelligences worth having. The school system is based on them. Gardner
eventually recognised an 8th intelligence, spirituality now
called naturalistic IQ, based in the right hemisphere. Below is the full
list. See if you recognise yourself.
Our 8 IQs
developed in people who are good with words, who like to write and read a
journalists, orators and comedians.
ó well developed in people who are good with numbers and appreciate
step-by-step, logical explanations. Examples: engineers, economists,
scientists, lawyers and accountants.
ó well developed in people who are good at art, visualising, navigating.
architects, photographers, painters, strategic planners, and sculptors.
ó well developed in people who are good at music and rhyme, and who have
composers, musicians and recording engineers.
ó well developed in people who are good at sport, dance, and handicrafts.
athletes, sportspersons, carpenters, surgeons, builders.
ó well developed in people who are good at persuading, selling, teaching
others, and who can read other people's moods well.
teachers, trainers, politicians, religious leaders, sales people.
Intra-Personal or Reflective
ó well developed in people who are good at self-analysis and reflection,
drawing conclusions from their own experience (and mistakes!), setting
goals and making plans.
are philosophers, psychologists, therapists, entrepreneurs. People who
make things happen.
developed in people who like and respect nature and are interested in
subjects like astronomy, evolution and the environment.
farmers, vets, biologists, gardeners and environmentalists.
recognise your strongest intelligences from the list?
Finally, and perhaps the most startling
point of all. Women are potentially far more intelligent than men. That
statement isnít 100% true. It should read: Feminine thinkers are
potentially more intelligent than masculine thinkers, because feminine and
masculine in this case cut across the genders of male and female.
The most obvious example of
this was Margaret Thatcher, a very masculine, machine like thinker. Her
strictly utilitarian, non feminine approach to problems did immeasurable
social damage to the UK from which we are still suffering today, almost 15
years later. The late Carl Sagan on the other hand, was primarily a
feminine thinker, despite being a scientist. He was brilliant, charming
and worked tirelessly for the benefit of humanity.
Feminine of course, in the
context of thinking should not be confused with effeminate or female. Many
men are born right hemisphere dominant. The theatre, the music industry,
advertising and films are full of right brain dominant men.
Of our eight intelligences
six are on the feminine right side of the brain, our creative
intelligences. They can handle information at the rate of one and one
quarter million bits of information per second i.e. 1,250,000 bits per
second whereas the poor old masculine brain can only handle forty bits per
second, yes 40, four zero.
Masculine thinking is
straight lined, sequential, non-emotional and thinks in words. Feminine
thinking is flexible, has depth and breadth, is creative, emotional and
almost limitless in itís imaginative properties and it thinks in pictures,
which is why itís so much faster. A picture tells a thousand words.
Masculine thinking demands one task at a time whereas feminine thinking
allows multi-tasking. The BBC programme Panorama did a programme in 1997
called the Future is Female. What they meant is, The Future is Feminine.
They failed to take into account the large number of feminine male
From all this new research
has sprung three new terms: Wholebrain Learning i.e. Accelerated Learning;
and its consequence, Integrated Intelligence. Wholebrain Learning is Left
and Right Hemisphere (brain) working together but because the Right Brain
is so much faster it is dominant. Despite this, the majority of school
failures are Right Brain Dominant. They are totally misunderstood and
often put down by a largely Left Brain teaching staff as being lazy and
difficult. They often end up withdrawn or downright disruptive.
Right Brain pupils,
especially boys, are sensitive, creative daydreamers who take failure and
criticism very badly, unlike their left-brain counterparts who are much
less emotionally affected by other peopleís perception of them.
What is Intelligence?
Intelligence is the linking
of brain cells (neurones) by connective tissue known as dendrites. The
gaps between the connecting dendrites are known as synapses (the synaptic
gap). Everyone is born with 12 to 15 thousand million, brain cells, each
cell capable of holding information. But each cell can make up to 100,000
connections to other cells and itís those connections, which effectively
make up Intelligence. The more cells which are connected the more
information we can work with and the more ideas we can come up with.
Effectively the more synapses we have the greater our intelligence.
Unfortunately much of our Right Brain creativity is being killed off by an
over abundance of Left Brain training at school or by many university
What this means is that
everyone on the planet has the same intellectual potential. It means also
that there is no such thing as stupidity, only levels of intelligence, all
of which can be developed up to the day we die. Indeed, if stupidity
exists at all, it exists as a defence mechanism. It also means that age is
no barrier to intellectual development. On the contrary, the more we keep
our brain active, the longer we are likely to live, i.e. healthy mind,
healthy body. To this end The Edinburgh Techniques are about to launch a
Thinking Skills programme in late 2005.
Expectations are crucial in
any field of development, but especially in education. If you expect
something to happen, you are already half way to achieving it. The
American psychologist Rosenthal divided a class in two, following a series
of class IQ tests. He told the teacher he had divided the class in two
halves according to the results, bright on the left, less bright on the
right, but not to tell them why they were thus divided and above all, not
to treat them differently.
Eight months later the
class results of the Ďbrighterí group were up by 30%, even their IQ tests
scored higher. Incredible really as Rosenthal had chosen the names for the
original lists at random, but because the teacher
the Ďbrighterí group to do better, as much as she tried, she unwittingly
conveyed this message to them over the months following Rosenthal dividing
the class. She also conveyed the opposite view to the other half of the
For this reason it is
crucial that all teachers be made aware of the new research which offers
neurological evidence, that all intelligence can be developed. Without
question, some of us are natural mathematicians, or musicians or
organisers or writers, but all of us can and should develop the weaker
parts of our intellect to bring them up to at least average.
Social Conditioning and Lack of
One major reason for poor academic achievement is the
switch from really trying to make the grade, to looking as if you have
already made the grade. Weíre talking image building here. Even those who
are making the grade as footballers, pop stars etc get caught up in
teenage image building where loud mouth and super cool swagger replace
reality. A false confidence often bordering on arrogance masks the reality
of fear, lack of confidence and low self-esteem. This means individuals
never solve their problems therefore never move on because their attitude
is, problems? What problems? So how can you begin to solve what isnít
(perceived) to be there?
This is all perfectly
understandable under the circumstances, but unfortunately by not facing up
to the problems of lack of confidence, low self-esteem and poor
educational standards, it hinders the progress of intellectual
over come any problem we must first of all recognise that the problem
exists. Parents and teachers must find ways
of encouraging their children to learn without putting them under
unnecessary pressure or trying to terrify them into working. Parents and
teachers must find ways of learning how to relax so they donít over-react
to their childrenís normal mistakes by shouting and they should never
physically hit their children for making mistakes. That is so counter
Parents must continue to
stretch their own intellectual potential at every opportunity to lead
their children by example. Love, kindness and gentleness should be by
words in all schools and homes. All children need that. All children
deserve that. You deserve that. You also deserve the joy this new approach
will bring to your homes and communities.
Every Human Being is
programmed to learn. Therefore any child who shirks the learning process
is doing so because his inner defence mechanisms, over which he has no
control, have been set up to protect him from further emotional hurt. They
are designed to shield him from the pain of failure, which he is
experiencing during the learning process. Let us all adopt these simple
Failure is OK. Itís part of the Learning Process.
Mistakes are our Best Friends.
The only people who donít
fail are those who never try. We learn from our mistakes, pick ourselves
up and try again. And when our students make a mistake letís not be too
ready to point it out before first pointing up the part of the answer they
have got right e.g. 95% correct, but just a little mistake here, rather
than: WRONG! With the emphasis on the mistake and completely ignoring the
bits he got right. Letís remember that children are easily hurt. Indeed.
Are even we as adults not easily hurt if we look silly in front of others?
But whoís perfect? People, especially the young should always be given
credit for trying and if they fail they should be encouraged to have
another go and helped where possible to succeed next time.
Teachers Fail, not Students
Because everyone can learn and is programmed to do so,
anyone who is failing to learn is not being taught properly. If our
students arenít picking ideas up, isnít it up to us as educators and/or
parents to find another way of presenting the information? Humans arenít
machines all programmed exactly the same way. We now know there are
numerous learning styles, which we should all become familiar with.
Student failure is a
failure of communication between educator and student. Itís the educatorís
job to find a way of communicating his information to the student.
Accelerated Learning Techniques, which are now available to schools via
Classroom Resources in Bristol, can overcome any problems with spelling,
tables or reading. We have no excuse for not having the tools to overcome
our problems as communicators.
As a therapist in the 70ís and 80ís working in the
field of dyslexia and slow learners I soon discovered that all of the
students, irrespective of age or background, were being hampered by
anxiety or second stage anxiety, tension. I used visualisation to help the
under 12ís (The Magic Garden) and
hypnosis for the over 12ís (The Study Relaxer).
The techniques were not only successful in calming the students down
(including stopping bed wetting, nightmares and sleepwalking within days)
they also produced dramatic improvements in the learning process.
Modern research shows why. The seat of short-term
memory is in the Limbic System, i.e. mid brain. It also controls, among
other things, the emotions. When the emotions are upset, the brain
switches to fight or flight mode during which
time little or no learning can take place until the student is
calm again. Fear is the enemy of learning, whether the student is 5 or 55.
More frightening is the permanent damage which the stress hormone cortisol
can do to the Hippocampus,
an integral part of laying down new memories.
to 40% of the Hippocampus can be destroyed by prolonged stress
The Edinburgh Techniques
Almost everyone who has learning difficulties is right
brain dominant, i.e. big picture thinkers. They prefer to see the big
picture first then fill in the details as they go along. Despite the right
side of the brain being far more powerful than the left, RB children fall
behind at school because they canít pick up on the details of tables and
spellings. They appear Ďstupidí whilst often being far more intelligent
than their Ďclevererí LB classmates.
The first thing this damages is confidence and self
esteem, without which learning is much more difficult. After a short while
on this downward spiral, they begin to lose hope and give up. The
Edinburgh Techniques, developed in the mid 80ís for children of the rich
and famous (as it turned out), are based on Wholebrain Learning which is
Right Brain dominant, allowing even 7 year old dyslexics to spell words
like Psychiatrist and Encyclopedia in the first session. (Because the
technique is visually based, students can also spell the words backwards.
That has to be seen to be believed. If anything shows they are not stupid,
spelling PSYCHIATRIST backwards does.) The best then go onto learn a
technique for the 12 times table (up to 12 x 19) in the same session.
You can imagine what this does for flagging confidence
and low self esteem. Suddenly students see a way forward and are keen to
learn more. The techniques cover all aspects of learning and include 2
Relaxation CDs, the Magic Garden for the under 12s and the Study Relaxer
for 12 and over. A written version of the Garden is now available in 6
languages. Dutch and Turkish will be added in March 2005.
techniques can be viewed and downloaded at:
Every one of us has the same intellectual potential,
but not the same Intellectual abilities. I can give a speech in front of
thousands of people from only a few notes and keep the audience interested
and amused for 2 or 3 hours. I can organise and run political campaigns
with ease. I have a good grasp of BIG subjects like politics and
psychology but I am slow at learning languages and other detailed subject
matter. Engineering and maths beyond 10th grade leave me cold.
Many of you reading this will say no, maths is easy, itís logical. You can
check your work. There are guidelines. I donít know how you can work with
such amorphous subjects like politics and psychology.
The reason for the differences are the way our
intelligences link up and whether we are right hemisphere dominant or
left, people orientated or fact orientated.
important facts to bear in mind are these:
It is never too late to take up or resume learning. All learning makes the
brain progressively better.
Information in itself is not intelligence. Intelligence is the use of
information not the gathering of it.
Finally. As we move through
the 21st century change will become even faster and more
complicated. We must always be ready to move with the times. No generation
in history is right about everything. Even the most deeply held beliefs of
past generations have been found to be ridiculous. Spare the rod and spoil
the child belongs in the 19th century and has no place in a
modern society. If we canít lead our children to the Promised Land we
certainly arenít going to be able to beat them into it. Letís take off the
pressure. Letís encourage and applaud effort. Letís try and be more
understanding about the difficulties of our students. Letís remember to
accentuate the positives, not the negatives and we will all be amazed and
delighted with the results.
Brian Hill MA
is an Educationalist,
formerly at the Edinburgh Centre for Accelerated Learning and the Stress
Management Centre in Harley Street, London. He is a specialist in
Accelerated Learning and Stress Management.
In the 80ís he developed a
range of Whole-brain Learning Techniques to help dyslexics and slow
learners who came to his Centre from all over the UK. In the mid 90ís he
wrote the Techniques up and they have been selling ever since over the
Net. From 1997 to Dec 2004 he licensed Classroom Resources to sell his
Techniques throughout UK schools.
Those techniques and more
can now be downloaded from the new website:
For further information
about points in this article please email Brian on
email@example.com or ring: 0066
90 550 414