This is a first post of facilitating with the brain in mind. I’m writing this series while developing work shops, master classes and training course about applying knowledge about “the mind at work”. On another page, I’ll give a list of the literature I’ve used.
To Design Thinking or not to Design?
Taylor and Marieua (2016) clearly state: “the brain has not been designed to think“. The brain serves the body in surviving through guiding its motions. Brains facilitate – make easy -, survival. Survival implies firstly and foremost moving away from danger, dark, predators, rotten food, bad people. And secondly, moving towards good stuff, like light, puppies, good food and fellowship.
Learning these things provides the keys for survival. Learning, as an adult, wasn’t necessary. Until a few decades ago, when our self-induced changes caught up with us.
Only creatures that move – swim, walk, fly – developed brains. Plants didn’t need brain, as they didn’t move. AND also the other way around: moving induces brain development, learning.
Moving helps to explain why our neurons cross-over. The left part of a brain controlling the right part of the body and vice versa, seems a design error. It’s not. Evolving nature works practically.
If there’s danger or food on the left side, you move you right side. Forwards or backwards. Like in a canoe: peddling to the back on the right side, moves the vessel to the left; peddling to the front on the right side, moves you to the right. As the first is easier then the latter, we tend to call doing the things to the right right (and “left” is associated with “dark” or “sinister” in Latin)
Most cultures use a “relative” direction of motion. We point and move relative to our body. Up and right is “good”, down and left is “bad”.
When I said, “I thought, …. ” to explain my behaviour, my father used to say: “let a horse do the thinking, their heads are bigger”.
Thinking is a very late addition to the repertoire of brain. That’s why it takes years of training. And we’re still very poor at it.
We cannot work and think at the same time. We derived the word school from the Greek “leisure time. It consumes a lot of energy. Better to practice sport and moving.
Lessons for facilitating
Always give with your “right” hand.
Consider your position. When moving or pointing to something “right”, point to your left side with your right hand. The participants, sitting in front of you, see you pointing towards their right side. With the left (right!) part of their brain.
Paradoxical intervention: moving away from a group, will be sensed as “flight” from something “bad”. So always move towards what feels “bad”: resistance, an interrupt, a problem, a situation. Move away, when all seems “right”.
When feeling stuck: move. Most meetings are conducted sitting down behind tables and afterwards, “nothing happened”.