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“Raising a Left- Brain Child in a Right-Brain World” Review

A few days ago I checked out Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World: Strategies for Helping Bright, Quirky, Socially Awkward Children to Thrive at Home and at School by Katharine Beals from the library.  If you have previously read my post: It’s the Teacher Not the Curriculum that Makes a Difference then you know that I very strongly believe that Dr. Beals is misrepresenting the Balanced Literacy movement, and is unfairly bashing Constructivist math.  I checked out her book from the library out of idle curiosity. 

As a personal philosophy, I do not believe in “flaming” people or ideas over the internet.  So I have deleted the original review I wrote about this book yesterday and today am going to try again!

My heart goes out to all parents whose children are struggling in school, both academically or socially, but blaming the current pedagogy in today’s public school system is not the answer.  Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World unfairly portrays teachers as being loyal to dogma instead of the children they have dedicated their careers to.  I say all of this as a person who has a family history of ASD.  I’m also a former teacher who worked her butt off to make sure that the Aspie children in my classroom received every special accommodation and service that could possibly help them. 

Yes, maybe children with social issues would do better in traditional classrooms from the 1940s, but those teaching models would not prepare students for the modern world.  Despite what Dr. Beals claims, STEM careers require communication and collaboration.  Do engineers create digital cameras in isolation?  Do cancer researches conduct private experiments and then keep mum about their findings?  In my opinion, gently encouraging students to become better about sharing their ideas and thinking can only help them in the long run.

Finally, I’d like to point out this book’s lack of footnotes or a bibliography.  If Dr. Beals is going to repeatedly criticize current educational theories (that I support because they are research based), she should at least have the academic discipline to back up her claims to the contrary. 


2 Comments

  1. Hi Jennifer,
    I have a post up today that mentions your review of Left Brain Child: http://oilf.blogspot.com/2011/12/might-suspending-your-preconceptions.html

    Best wishes (and no hard feelings!)
    Katharine

    • jenbrdsly says:

      Best wishes to you too Katharine!

      I think that if you have family members with Autism, or you are married to an engineer, that it can be incredibly difficult to read a book that discusses ASD and left-brained individuals without referencing your own experiences.

      This is Christmas time, and I just received a card from a former Aspie student I taught for two years. I fought tooth and nail for that little girl, in every IEP I attended. She is now in community college, and living in her own apartment. Incredible parenting, and public schools that cared about her, made a difference.

      As a teacher who is passionate about education, I would love to have seen a chapter in your book that highlighted the ways teachers work closely with parents and school districts to make the current pedagogy work for all types of minds. I know from first-hand knowledge that it can work, because it is the teacher, not the curriculum that makes the difference.

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