Interview with Dr. Brian E. Walsh, Author of “Unleashing Your Brilliance: Tools & Techniques to Achieve Personal, Professional and Academic Success.”
Reader Views’ Managing Editor, Irene Watson, is pleased to interview Dr. Brian E. Walsh. Dr. Walsh is the author of Unleashing your Brilliance: Tools & Techniques to Achieve Personal, Professional and Academic Success.
Irene: What inspired you to write a book that deals with learning patterns of the brain?
Brian: I became a hypnotherapist a few years back. Part of my study included brain hemispheric differences. One of the most intriguing aspects was that, not only do we have a dominant brain and hand, we also have dominant feet, eyes, and ears. How an individual is neurologically wired can result in one of 32 possible learning styles. How many teachers and trainers know that? This information sparked my interest in accelerated learning. Actually, I prefer the term enriched learning. It isn’t speed, it’s the quality of learning that that is critical.
Irene: In your book you talk about the various forms of intelligence. The one that we are most familiar with is the “IQ” measurement. Two that you mention are spatial and musical. Explain some of the other forms that we possess.
Brian: Well the “IQ” measurement is not only ethnocentric, but is also bias against students who have smarts in intelligences other than mathematical, logical, and linguistic. School systems cater to the left-brain, and students wired that way do well in school. The other intelligences are, spatial, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and the most under-appreciated: kinesthetic intelligence. Kinesthetic people need to move, touch, and experience in order to learn. Those high in this intelligence often have a very difficult time in school. Occasionally, they are mistakenly labeled as hyperactive, and subsequently drugged. A large number of high-school dropouts are kinesthetic learners.
Irene: By hyperactive, do you mean many young children are diagnosed as having ADD or ADHD? If so, why do you believe they are misdiagnosed and drugged?
Brian: Yes, I do mean ADHD, and I am not saying that misdiagnosis takes place in the majority of cases. ADD and ADHD are simply behavioral disorders. Not all cases should be treated with drugs. Most teachers and physicians are ignorant of the basic three learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). Few teacher colleges include these concepts in their curricula. Often the approach is to just cure the symptom. An overworked physician reverts to drugs as the easy way out. There are a number of programs available to deal with these issues, Brain Gym being just one of them.
Irene: You believe that creative and critical thinking are not common skills. It is believed by some, however, that logical concepts of everyday reasoning and problem-solving are innate. What is your basis for your theory?
Brian: I agree that these skills are with us naturally at first. Unfortunately, in school, there is greater reward for being right instead of exploring alternatives. We become programmed to find the “right” answer, then stop looking. This results in limited thinking. When I say that these are not common skills, I mean that students are encouraged to get the test answers right rather than explore unorthodox concepts.
Irene: Give us some examples of unorthodox concepts.
Brian: Perhaps a better phrase would be to allow random, intuitive, creative discovery — to permit, indeed encourage, out-of-the-box thinking. By narrowing the scope to the one correct answer, open frank, and expanded thought is inhibited.
Irene: Discipline, and how it is administered in schools, is a touchy subject. You have expressed that classrooms actually work against learning. Please explain your thinking.
Brian: This is a reference to the kinesthetic learners. For them to sit still in class is hell. They squirm, they fidget, they drum their fingers, they shake their legs. They often thrive in the earlier grades, because there is some activity. As they get older, they are expected to “act” more maturely. Most teachers haven’t a clue about the advantages of kinesiology exercises, such as the cross-crawl. A host of these activities can drive fresh oxygenated blood to the brain, and concurrently stimulate cross-hemispheric brain activity. Whole brain learning is achieved. While I’m on this subject, water is crucial to energy and learning. Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue and impaired brain functioning. A person who is just 5% dehydrated has already lost 30% of cognitive ability.
Irene: The cross-crawl exercise is also used by some people with dyslexia to stimulate cross-hemispheric brain activity. The results have been notable. Do you believe that dyslexic people are often misdiagnosed also?
Brian: Well, dyslexia is a label indicating a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It shows up in reading and spelling. Strange that dyslexics are called disabled, since many are average to above average intelligence. To answer your question, absolutely, some people are misdiagnosed. I am so encouraged by the great research of Dr. Carla Hannaford in hemispheric dominance. I believe that kinesiology will play a greater role in education in the years to come.
Irene: In chapter nine of Unleashing Your Brilliance you cover the benefits of hypnosis for the purpose of a student having more discipline and organization in their learning structure. What other practical reasons would a student benefit from hypnosis?
Brian: I am careful in my use of the words hypnosis and trance in reference to learning. Let me put it this way: The ideal learning state is known as “relaxed alertness”. In actuality, this is a light trance. Most people do not understand that information hits the subconscious mind first. Only a very little of the incoming data reaches the conscious mind. This is the central theme for my book. If you truly understand that information is processed by the subconscious first, then you can adapt your learning methods to take advantage of this fact.
Irene: Basically, you are talking about being in the Alpha level of consciousness. Would you explain to our reading audience the various levels and what activity occurs in those levels.
Brian: The brain wave frequencies are designated by the terms Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta. Our normal state of consciousness oscillates between Beta (full awareness) and high Alpha (light level of trance – daydream). Some hypnotherapy is accomplished at various levels of Alpha since a person is highly suggestible in this state. The deeper level of Theta is reached in hypnosis, meditation, and light sleep. Twenty minutes of Theta trance is as beneficial as a few hours of sleep. The Delta level (very slow brain wave frequency) is occasionally reached in hypnosis, and is reached during dreamless deep sleep in the first few hours of sleep. This is the most valuable period of the night’s sleep, since it is in Delta that the necessary cell repair and regeneration takes place.
Irene: At what age should a person start using hypnosis for enhancing learning skills?
Brian: Interesting question. Have you ever wondered why children learn so easily? Children are already in trance. Their brain waves are slower than adults express in their fully-conscious state. Hypnosis is evidenced by slower brain waves. I believe that with proper instruction in self-hypnosis, a student can begin as early as the age of 7.
Irene: Thank you for your interview. I find this subject very fascinating and could talk to you much longer but we need to wrap it up. Is there anything at this time that you would like the reading audience to know about you or your book?
Brian: I am passionate about this subject. My mission is to reach people, students or adults, who have any thoughts that they don’t have the smarts to get ahead. Most of us have been processed through the factories that are called schools. School boards have limited budgets, and this puts pressure on the teachers. There are no simple answers. I recommend that parents be assertive. If they get a grasp of learning styles, multiple intelligences, kinesiology, and how the brain learns, they will be in a much more powerful position to assist their children. Students of all ages must take charge of their own learning. Relying on conventional schooling is not enough.