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High Touch Teaching: Total Mind Activation in Business Jam classes

About 15 years ago, Daniel Pink brought right brain thinking to the masses in his seminal book, A Whole New Mind. Through analysis of research in neuropsychology he advocated restoring the right brain to its “rightful” place in thinking about, well, thinking. More specifically he highlighted the different roles each part of the brain plays in maintaining our ability to function as coherent human beings. According to Pink:

  • The left hemisphere is sequential; the right hemisphere is simultaneous.

  • The left hemisphere specializes in text; the right hemisphere specializes in context.

  • The left hemisphere analyzes the details; the right hemisphere synthesizes the big picture.

In summary:

“The left hemisphere handles logic, sequence, literalness, and analysis. The right takes care of synthesis, emotional expression, context, and the big picture.”


Furthermore, he advocated that the world in the 21st century will demand the activation of the right brain in order to adapt to the radical changes engulfing us. To survive in the Conceptual Age (characterized by affluence, technological progress and globalization.) we need “high concept and high touch”, defined as:


High concept involves the ability to create artistic and emotional beauty, to detect patterns and opportunities, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into a novel invention.”


High touch involves the ability to empathize, to understand the subtleties of human interaction, to find joy in one’s self and to elicit it in others, and to stretch beyond the quotidian, in pursuit of purpose and meaning.”


Pink’s work has obvious implications for the Business English and ESL classrooms, where modern teaching techniques already values the importance of creative problem solving, outcomes-based measurement and student-centered teaching. With the addition of high-tech and interconnectedness, the scene is set for education to play its role in nurturing holistic human beings that can function globally across a broad spectrum of cultures and technologies.


What is especially helpful to the teaching profession is Pink’s advocacy of the following six senses or aptitudes that will help us deliver high concept, high touch classes in the Conceptual Age.

  • Not only argument but STORY

  • Not only function, but DESIGN

  • Not only focus, but SYMPHONY

  • Not only logic, but EMPATHY

  • Not only seriousness, but PLAY

  • Not only accumulation, but MEANING

At Business Jam we use these key learnings to ensure that our classes activate the mind in its totality, thereby ensuring that “logic, sequence, literalness, and analysis” as well as “emotional expression, context, and the big picture.” are part of the language acquisition experience.


STORY

At Business Jam we design lesson plans that incorporate language skills (grammar, vocab, etc.) into a broader thematic whole. Structuring a coherent narrative, based on practical topics and themes relating to the work environment, adds to the overall ability of a student to retain the key language learned.


DESIGN

As with STORY, focusing on language function only, e.g. rules, we pretty much miss the overall design of the language, The totality of English can only be discovered if we extract it from the cold chambers of grammar tombs and expose it’s practicality in the every day use of Englsh all over the world. This we do through design-driven lessons plans that incorporate the full spectrum of learning styles.


Lesson plans include interactive activities, visually stimulating presentations as well as more reflective information processing tasks. Students are required to visualize, process aurally, do and experience, thus transcending the singular focus on function.


SYMPHONY

Although Focus and Flow have become key concepts in business theory, we believe that if we don’t synthesize the parts that we teach our students into an organic whole, they will find it difficult to adapt to the international English business culture.


To this extent, our Business English courses not only consist of functional language and business units, but also soft skills units as well as social skills units such as Food from around the World , Dinner Etiquette, Wine Appreciation and Air Travel that will prepare them to effortless negotiate the English speaking world.


EMPATHY

To fully understand the difficulty our students experience in learning Business English, we employ both teachers that have acquired English as a second language and native English speaking teachers. English Second Language teachers are the perfect role models for our students. As for our English speaking staff, we encourage them to study the language of the country they teach in, thus promoting empathy towards the study effort of our students.


Teachers are also schooled in engaging students holistically by brining their lives into the classroom. Activities often relates to students’ own experiences and teachers learn more about students as the students share they lives with the class.


PLAY

The importance of PLAY in the classroom, for both kids and adults, have become a key tenant of modern teaching techniques. At Business Jam we incorporate various activities into our lessons, ensuring engagement and retention.


MEANING

Traditional language accusation focused on the accumulation of data about the target language (grammar rules, vocabulary, etc.) outside a meaningful context that could frame the use of the language. In our classes practical context stand at the enter of what we do. Students are taught to create meaning and value out of the information overload that has come to characterize the English business environment.


Combined with modern teaching approaches such as the Lexical Approach, learnings from neuropsychology such as neuroplasticity and insights from leadership and organization development, Business Jam offers the ideal learning environment for the acquisition of not only Business English language skills but a range of personal skills that will prepare our students to negotiate the English speaking business world.


For more information contact me at stefan.lotz@businessjamvn.com


References:

Pink, Daniel H.. A Whole New Mind . Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.



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