Monthly Archives: May 2012

4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator: What if I only had a (left) brain?

The 4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator measures our preference for right-mode of left-mode thinking. With an awareness of your natural preference for one mode of thinking over another, trainers, instructional designers and learners can more readily recognize how to stretch into their under-utilized learning mode. Most of the participants in our 4MAT instructional design courses and train the trainer courses share with us that the right-mode learning strategies are most likely to be missed.

We know now that the right brain plays an essential role in learning.  As recently as the early 1980’s, neuroscientists believed the right side of the brain was mostly unnecessary. Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Roger Sperry, shared in his 1981 Nobel lecture, the right hemisphere was “not only mute and agraphic but also dyslexic, word-deaf and apraxic, and lacking generally in higher cognitive function.” Sperry made it sound like our right brains might be non-essential.

What if you only had a left brain? If we look at patients who have suffered damage to the right brain, we will find a list of symptoms and inabilities that give insight into what would happen if you found yourself missing the right part of your brain. Here’s what that might look like:

  • You wouldn’t understand a joke.
  • You would have no idea what Forrest Gump meant when he shared the metaphor “life is like a box of chocolates.”
  • You would not be able to make sense of a map or any other visual tool.
  • A 2-year could draw a more realistic house, cat or dog than you.
  • You would have no concept of what Bob Dylan meant when he sang about “a rolling stone”:

              How does it feel

                           To be without a home

                           Like a complete unknown

                          Like a rolling stone?

All of the problems associated with right brain damage are related to the ability to relate one thing to another. The right brain enables us to make connections and synthesize which are essential acts in learning and innovation.

Without well-crafted right-mode learning strategies, learners have difficulty integrating learning into their lives. The 4MAT instructional model intentionally creates balance by moving the learner through a complete learning cycle while integrating both right and left-mode strategies.  We have to constantly ask ourselves, “How balanced are the learning experiences I am creating?”

What do you think gets in the way of effective use of right-mode instructional strategies?

Using 4MAT to Integrate “What Learners Know” and “What Learners Think”

What we think and what we know are two different things. Thinking is what is happening in our minds – the mind chatter we listen to. Our consciousness, on the other hand, holds all that we are aware of including that which we cannot put into words (yet).  Making the distinction between thinking and knowing is important when designing and delivering training experiences.

Learners know much more than they can quickly put into words. This is especially true when first exploring new content.

In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle shares, “All true artists whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative impulse or insight.”  To ensure learning transfer, learners must be equipped with the ability to adapt the content – to get creative.  Tapping into the full potential of our creativity requires that we make time for reflection.

The problem with many learning experiences is that they are emphasize thinking over knowing. The 4MAT model intentionally balances this focus. Here are two (of the many) ways that the 4MAT model equips learners for success:

  1. Encouraging Learner Reflection: The 4MAT instructional design model intentionally builds in reflection points for the learner to explore and synthesize what they already know with the new information being given to them.
  2. Mental Imagery: The 4MAT model integrates right-brain instructional strategies which enable learners to express what they know (consciousness) but may not be able to fully express in words (thinking).

In the rush to shorten a training design, we have to be careful to honor and maintain the balance between thinking and consciousness.