Q & A with KATHARINE BEALS
Why did you write Raising a Left-Brain Child?
I'm the mother of three left-brain children, and I've grown increasingly concerned about problems they face in school and in society at large.
What other experiences do you bring this book?
Besides my own experiences as a parent, I've interviewed a number of other parents of left-brainers and learned a lot from them.
I'm also a teacher, and have taught both officially and unofficially in various public schools--mostly math.
In addition, I spent a year and a half in France back when I was a grade school student, and this has given me a chance to compare how American students learn with how European students learn (French classrooms ressemble classrooms throughout much of Europe).
I now teach in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and this has given me an opportunity to learn more about current trends in education, and see how today's teachers are being trained.
I'm also part of the education blogosphere, where there's a rich network of bloggers debating and sharing research about education. In addition to my own blog I've been a contributing blogger at kitchentablemath. Most recently Catherine Johnson and I have started a new blog, at catherineandkatharine.wordpress.com.
Finally, I have a PhD in linguistics, which has helped me analyze the conversational dynamics of today’s classrooms and the challenges they pose to left-brainers.
Why have you chosen the term left-brain for the children you're writing about?
I want to stress that I'm not using left-brain in the neurological sense to refer to actual brain hemispheres.
The reason I've picked left-brain is that it's the only term that captures both the unsocial and the analytical features of these kids: according to popular usage, left-brainers are people who tend to be introverts, think logically and abstractly, analyze and systematize, process things linearly (or one at a time), tune in to verbal more than to nonverbal communication, and prefer to work independently.
Also, left brain is a much nicer term than "nerd" or "geek", and one of my goals in writing Raising a Left Brain Child is to encourage people not to put these children down, but to celebrate them for their many wonderful quirks and talents.
What other projects have you been involved with?
My other big project is the GrammarTrainer, a program I've created to teach basic, intermediate and advanced English grammar to children with autism and other language delays.
I was motivated to program the hundreds of pages of code it took to create this interactive curriculum by the needs of my middle child, who is autistic--and who has become extremely verbal in the years since he started using the program.
How can people get in touch with you?
You can email me at katharine (dot) p (dot) beals (at) gmail (dot) com.