Conscious and Unconscious Learning Styles


Conscious and Unconscious Learning Styles

Some learning is conscious. This type we are most familiar with.  Other learning is unconscious and not frontline news. The educational method called right brain education utilizes both the unconscious and conscious brain. This method utilizes rapid stimulation to the brain which results in a different kind of learning than the traditional slower approach to concept knowledge.

With this approach, input to the brain goes into the unconscious mind more so than the conscious mind and can then be recalled at will. These specific methods of teaching that train memory and concentration through rapid learning appeal to a particular kind of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learner. Perhaps unconscious learning explains the sudden flashes of brilliance of children who demonstrate abilities beyond their years.

Imaging is Key

An aspect to this approach to learning that is perhaps the most powerful is the technique of teaching children to image.  The ability to image can be enhanced and opens cognition to unconscious memory building.  The discovery of this is usually attributed to Glenn Doman in the 60’s and then further refined by Makoto Shichida, (both now deceased) and others, including Pamela Hickein.  These individuals discovered that the brain has the ability to fast map thousands of bits of information in a coherent way that allows for retrieval and increased memory power.  Apparently dormant senses in the brain are utilized in the approach to learning often called right brain education. Marrying both hemispheres of the brain in a harmonious working relationship results in an incredible acceleration of learning.

 What Do Brain Studies Say?

When Dr. Shichida, a Japanese pioneer in right brain education, shared his theory of right brain education with the U.S. in the 1990’s, brain research on infants was still in its infancy.  He had no way of really knowing how to explain the results he was getting and so his scientific explanations were crude and premature. Today, still, there aren’t any studies on the subconscious/unconscious mind of infants to my knowledge that would explain how babies can do complicated math problems and develop these other latent cognitive functions that Dr. Shichida was discovering.

Publications like Scientist in the Crib and The Philosophical Baby share some of the more recent brain studies being done with infants in the U.S. We are taught that the brain, like every other organ in the human body, develops and grows at an astounding rate from conception. There are definite sequences in brain development that follow one upon another. If you spend time with babies you are acutely aware of the passing stages of learning and development.  These two books outline much of that growth in fascinating detail, but they can’t explain the development of the image brain because the studies have not been done on infants.

The closest I can come to mention of the potential of this type of ability is a quote inside Dr. Kotulak’s book “Inside the Brain” published in 1996 where he quotes Dr. Bruce Perry of Baylor College of Medicine saying “In the same way that we evolved a certain cognitive abstract capacity as a function of our capacity to read, there is every reason to believe that there are other untapped abstract capabilities of our brains that are not being developed by our traditional educational system.”[1]

“Follow the child” Has a New Direction

Maria Montessori’s famous mantra was to “follow the child”, meaning that children would reveal their true selves if adults were observant. It is time for researchers, those in the field of early childhood and for parents to suspend judgment and investigate and then apply these accelerated learning techniques that will truly revolutionize education as we now know and practice it today.  This would give children a real head start well before they begin formal schooling.

.(Excerpted from Brain Dance: An Accelerated Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers, by Celeste A. Miller, Ph.D.)


[1] Kotulak, R. (1996). Inside the brain.  KS: Kansas City,  McMeel Publishing

Lotus flower, Taipei Flower Expo, Taiwan, photographed by Tom Miller

Lotus flower, Taipei Flower Expo, photographed by Tom Miller