Gippslandia #8 - Review Department - The Dominance Factor.

The Dominance Factor.

There is no doubt that we are all different. But this is not a book about appearances or beliefs, this is about how we think differently, see differently, hear differently and learn differently. The Dominance Factor is a book that shows us how to understand and value this diversity.

Carla Hannaford, the author of Smart Moves and The Dominance Factor, worked for many years as an educator and then lecturer in neurophysiology. Carla brings her experiences together to explain how our body and brain connect to develop natural neurological pathways for collecting and processing information. She shows how these natural pathways, or dominance profiles, affect the way we think and learn, and why we get so frustrated when someone else can’t see or understand things the way we do.

Carla explains that when we are relaxed, we use both sides of our brain and also both our eyes, ears, hands and feet. But we favour one side over the other, and it is the combination of these dominant sides that form our dominance profile, revealing how and why we all see, hear, learn and do things differently. Conversely, in times of stress, these body/brain connections can become closed pathways making certain kinds of information hard to access and therefore making learning difficult.

Take the brain/hand connection for example. When the neurological pathway for a dominant right hand is connected to a dominant logic (usually left) brain, we get someone who learns through writing and communication. On the other hand, if we have someone who is left-handed but is a dominant gestalt (usually right-brained), then that person is more likely to learn kinaesthetically or hands-on. But a person who is gestalt (right-brained), as well as right-handed, is likely to find conversation hard, and unless they are relaxed, kinaesthetic learning will also be difficult because it is not through their dominant hand.

It comes as no surprise then that most classroom work is suitable for logic (left) brained, right-handed and right eye (or ear) students and teachers. It suits their natural learning pathways. But only about a quarter of the 32 profiles can learn this way. That’s a lot of students not reaching their full potential, and these are the students that Carla found repeatedly needing help. Rather than labelling these students as difficult or inadequate, Carla would honour the student’s natural learning profiles, working to find ways to nurture the student’s differences.

Also, to help reduce stress and keep the body/brain pathways open, she would introduce the students to integration exercises such as Brain Gym®, which was developed by Paul and Gail Dennison. Then, regardless of their dominance profile, the exercises would keep both sides of their bodies and brain open for collecting and processing information.

Carleen Haylock, who introduced The Dominance Factor to us at the Reader’s Emporium, has been using the dominance profiles and Brain Gym® at Tyers Primary School where she works, and I hear that it is making a real difference to the students’ learning potentials, which is awesome!

The importance of Carla Hannaford’s work can be seen not only in the classroom but in personal relationships and business as well. Brain dominance alone can show how important it is to understand and value this diversity. Logic brains tend to look for details and order, while gestalts tend to see the big picture and use their intuition. It makes sense, therefore, that any significant decision-making, problem-solving or innovation benefits from both points of view. And anything that helps us to get along and understand each other is always valuable.

Carla’s book is available to buy through Reader’s Emporium, Traralgon / readersemporium.com.au.

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