learning with professionals - Higgins Counterterrorism Research ...


learning with professionals - Higgins Counterterrorism Research ...

LeDoux remark that when first demonstrated, “the view that the mute [right] hemisphere

was also deserving of conscious status was widely criticized and generally rejected.” 132

Accordingly, psychologists Sally P. Springer and Georg Deutsch characterize the right

side of the brain as the “neglected hemisphere.” 133

(Western) Culture

Culture exerts such strong influence on thinking it may be regarded as a corporate

brain. Because the physiology of childbirth limits the size of a baby’s skull, the human

brain arrives in the world only partially formed. To name the pieces of intellect added

after birth, author Leonard Shlain uses the word “culture.” 134 Because thinking and learning

result in a physical realignment of our neurons, Shlain’s point is no exaggeration. It is

a bad joke among educators that every teacher is a brain surgeon.

A Pair. In a 1959 essay, Charles Percy Snow described the characteristics of two cultures

between which, he wrote, “the intellectual life of the whole of Western society is increasingly

split.” In Snow’s characterization, a “traditional” culture lacked foresight, was slow to

change, and turned its back on art while a “natural” culture was always reaching, did not

hesitate to cut across mental patterns, and had a taste for color photography. Snow’s description

of this pair parallels the dimensions of cognitive diversity, and even Snow speculated

that the basis for this diversity could include different kinds of mental activity. 135

Domination. Paralleling the mental model, traditional Western culture thoroughly

dominates natural culture. One of the most important aspects of this domination is the

control conventional thinking exerts over the education systems that are rewiring the corporate

brain. Mathematician Keith Devlin writes

Western culture is dominated by an approach to knowledge that goes back to

Plato, and to his teacher, Socrates. Their love of mathematics and of precise

definitions led them to discount any human talent, ability, activity, or skill that

could not be defined and explained and subjected to rational argument.

Devlin illustrates with the example of the German academy that “introduced the distinction

between the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften) and the humanities (Geisteswissenschaften)

and gave the former higher status.” 136 Shlain draws the mental

parallel by describing how introducing a child into “alphabet arcana numbs her to the fact

that she supplants all-at-once gestalt perception with a new, unnatural, highly abstract

one-at-a-time cognition.” 137

132 Michael S. Gazzaniga and Joseph E. LeDoux, The Integrated Mind (New York: Plenum Press, 1978), 5.

133 Springer and Deutsch, 13.

134 Shlain, 12-13.

135 Charles Percy Snow, The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (New York: Cambridge University

Press, 1959), 2-8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 23, 47.

136 Keith Devlin, Goodbye, Descartes: The End of Logic and the Search for a New Cosmology of the Mind

(New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997), 102, 182.


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