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March 5, 2019: A Conversation Between the Left and Right Halves of my Brain: When the Numbers Don’t add Up

The following conversation took place the other evening, after strength training class. I decided after being unable to figure out a simple mathematical problem, to have a discussion about this with both halves of my brain. I specifically could not figure out how to balance out a load of 90 pounds on a 33 pound bar.

Right Brain: What a beautiful day. The sunrise this evening was magnificent.
Left Brain: Right Brain, we have a problem.
R.B: “We” have a problem?
L.B: Yes, in the words of Cool Hand Luke, “what we have here is a failure to communicate.”
R.B: I don’t think “we” have a problem. Maybe you have a problem.
L.B: Listen up. “We” who are connected by the corpus callosum have an issue that we have to contend with. It’s high time we deal with what we’ve been scooting around with since time

Creating new neural pathways
Creating new neural pathways

immemorial, which is our perceived inability to do even the simplest math calculations.
R.B: Why does this concern you?
L.B: Because Alys, our keeper, is appearing to be a dimwit in the minds of others.
R.B: I’m okay with this.
L.B: This is because you have no conscience.

R.B: Not so. It’s like this:

The man bent over his guitar,

A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."

And they said then, "But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are."

You see, like the poet Wallace Stevens, the author of The Man with a Blue Guitar, I just accept things as they are.
L.B: Well, I’m taking charge here and insisting we address the above matter.
R.B: How so?
L.B: By assisting our keeper in becoming less math phobic. We can begin by taking on the problem of her not being able to figure out strength-training weight-related problems.
R.B: I think we should first do something about those baby puke yellow walls in the strength training room. I have an idea. Let’s get some sharpies and draw a huge lightbulb on the far wall. Then let’s give the lightbulb a face.
L.B: This will then indicate to those who use the room that this is a place where there are ahh haa moments.
R.B: Now you’re catching on.
L.B: Forget the lightbulb idea. They’ll boot our keeper out of the facility and she will then again become a 20-pound weakling.
R.B: Should we instead first talk about why she’s having these blocks?
L.B: No. Granted, her math past is checkered. She had some not-so-good math experiences early on, which she related to other experiences. This mess is now contained in her episodic memory bank. Now she freezes whenever she is asked to deal with anything mathematical.
R.B: True, true, I remember one of her earlier memories in which . . .
L.B: We don’t have time to deal with this today. We instead need to find a learning-based approach that complements how she processes information.
R.B: You go right ahead. This is an ideas day. For instance, I am thinking that Alys might write an article on keeping a yoga journal. She wrote a draft in her yoga journal. And also, she needs to get going on her article on the use of imagery in teaching horseback riding.
L.B: You know, Alys has been obsessed with the subject of imagery now for some time, and as well how it’s used in processing and disseminating information.
R.B: She thinks she’s charting new territory.
L.B. Actually, it’s just the same old, same old. But its new to you and her.
R.B: Episodic memory again. You know, when she was taking that basic math class at the college, there was some algebra involved. She soon got stuck on the concept of positive and negative numbers.
L.B: Really stuck.
R.B: Yes, really stuck. She kept trying to memorize those formulas.
R.B: Then, one day, when she was looking at a thermometer, she got it. I told her so.
L.B. And then I told her so. -2 +3 = +1. And + 10 -3 = 7. And +7 -7 + 0.
R.B. Incredible.
L.B. I think that she should do more research and attempt to determine how images and imagery can be used to grasp mathematical principles.
R.B. So many ideas. So little time.
L.B: So little time. So many ideas.

Next: 65. 3/7/19: Ideas Day: Listen Up!

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