Lefty or a Righty?

Which brain side do you use the most? A Mercedes Benz advertisement. 

Our society places the left side of the brain on a pedestal. Students able to teach Maths, Chemistry and Physics receive a grant – getting paid to gain the teaching qualification whilst everyone needs to pay for the same course. Universities often offer more research projects in these areas – and those that are able to offer more research are considered leading institutions. Students excelling in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths, Medicine and Maths) are seen as the “brainy kids”.

Considered “brainy” even though the other subjects require just as much “brain power” – but perhaps require the other side. For instance, not many STEMM students can paint, write poetry or even an extended essay. 

I enjoyed almost every subject in school and really struggled having to drop some during GCSEs. I liked writing, I liked hard facts, I liked debating. The only subject I didn’t like was PE but at GCSE level you were graded on improvement – not ability – and the content was heavily science based so I coped.

At A Levels I had to pick again – this time only 4. I ended up picking 3 “hard sciences” and Psychology, a “soft science”. The reason – I thought these subjects would give me a better chance at picking my degree at university. I was still unsure about what I wanted to do, but I knew I could still do a humanities subject at university with these A Levels but the opposite would not be true.

I chose Engineering. But, I still enjoy working my right side. Writing, doodling, colouring, sewing, knitting, scrapbooking.  I’m not saying I’m very good at these things – I just enjoy them.

It got me wondering, would I have been better at these activities if society had given them value? What if art was compulsory, just like Maths, Science and English?

Studying “hard” subjects is meant to skill you into useful and well paid careers, whereas anyone with a humanities degree is predicted to work at Mc Donald’s. I say hard in quotation marks since I would fail at a language or history or fine art degree. Yet, businesses are always looking for creativity and innovation – what better way to ensure they’re hiring the best people if our students have worked both sides of their brain!

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12 thoughts on “Lefty or a Righty?

  1. I always struggled in this area – granted I’ve finally reached grown-up level proficiency in math lol, but I crave being able to use the right side of my brain more. My day job (unfortunately?) has to be data analytics so I can earn a decent living, but I had to start my blog in order to revive my creative juice again!

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  2. One of the philosophers I had read about in my Sociology of Education paper had actually suggested spreading more of humanities subjects as a way to improving society and decreasing clash between different factions. The reason is simple, while natural sciences (math, technology,medicine as you have mentioned) can help us know more about the world we live in and is of utmost importance, and the end of the day human beings are known to be living for one thing and one thing alone- find happiness and peace and without encouraging the ‘arts’ it is impossible to achieve that social order and maximum human potential. The world has become too much about ends and not the means.

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  3. Really good post and subject! I was mediocre in just about all subjects. When I went back to my 10th high school reunion, I found out my reputation was as an artsy type…..but I was working in government as an investigator. That really allowed me to be creative and analytical. I never really developed any type of “art” just dabbled.
    Teachers used to try and push me and I finally made straight As. For my masters degree….
    The main thing is to just grow and try to be well rounded. That’s what my family used to tell me-I was well rounded!
    But I agree-we need to emphasize the importance of the Arts! It’s sad it’s being defended in our U.S. schools.

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  4. I know these feelings well, to be honest. I had to make the same decisions, and my teachers lost a lot of interest in me once it was clear I wasn’t Oxbridge material. I tried Physics, though I was always awful in Maths, because I thought my love for the planets would see me through. I gave it up after a term and switched to an AS in Politics instead. I was never very good with hard science. Numbers only served to confuse. Words were my talent, so I went the Humanities route. But I’d argue that no degree is really the golden ticket we were made to believe it was in school, unfortunately.

    Speaking of words though, in the first paragraph, did you mean ‘pedestal’? 🙂

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    • Yes I did! Thank you. With edit that right away 😛
      That’s such a shame that Oxbridge had to be the thing that meant teachers would keep trying. Did you enjoy politics?
      And you’re right about no subject being the golden ticket – in my experience it tends to be your links, your experience, the university you went to (which will also effect your links and possibly experience) and the grade you get that actually matters.

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      • The thing was, I was in a group labeled the ‘boffins’ when I was in school, but I myself wasn’t exactly the smartest cookie. I got decent marks, but I was always more interested in fictional events than real ones. And I did actually! It was a small class and we had a lot of debates. I learn’t a lot about motivation and human nature.

        And I agree with you completely, experience and connections will get you almost as far as a first in any BA hons. Wonderful blog post! 🙂

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  5. Valid points are made. Both aspects of the brain are important to cultivate. It’s sad that we don’t value both sides equally. Still, life goes on. At least the realization for the need for both is a form of progress. 🙂

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    • Times defo change what is seen as brainy. Being a poet used to be an amazing skill and is now not so valued. So I’m sure times will change again.
      But it’d be nice for both to be on equal platforms. I don’t know if that’s just too idealistic.

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      • Yes we do. And it’s incredibly difficult to come to a unanimous consensus on such a topic. Still, not impossible. After all, while change is inevitable, habit is hard to break. Make such an idea a belief and habit, and it could spring to life. Yes, I sound optimistic but then again, someone must sound ridiculous to achieve such a enormous task. It takes incredible resilience to make a big mark on history or people.

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