The University of St. Thomas


Kearney, Pamela

Kearney, Pamela

Wholistic Integration of Music, Movement and Language: Essential Components of a Brain Compatible Curriculum for Middle School Students
Pamela E. Kearney

Current brain research has provided educators with new insights into how learning occurs. Researchers have proven conclusively that the hemispheres of the brain process in parallel, each utilizing its unique capabilities. The left hemisphere sequentially analyzes fragments of information and the right hemisphere relies on spatial, relational contructs to organize these fragments into a meaningful whole. Each hemisphere reinforces and complements the other, providing a balance of fragmented, linear, sequential processing with wholistic, random, pattern seeking processing.

The purpose of my study was to examine this research and its application for educators. Are we currently providing a brain based curriculum for our students, one that uses both hemispheres of the brain optimally? If all students are to have the maximum opportunity to learn, then the traditional linear, sequential, verbal, analytical, left hemisphere techniques must be paired with the right hemisphere techniques that enable students to experience learning from a spatial, imaginative, artistic, and kinesthetic perspective. Since students rely upon a variety of learning modes and intelligences to process information and problem solve, educators need to provide a wide array of instructional strategies that will motivate and engage students.

Three disciplines that provide this broadened teaching perspective are the philosophies of Orff Schulwerk, Dalcroze Eurhythmics and whole language. All three of these methods are experiential, wholistic, process-oriented, activity-rich and student driven. They provide the essential components of a brain based curriculum that can reinvigorate our schools emphasizing creativity, analysis and higher level thinking, collaborative teamwork, self-direction and esteem building. All three methods should be seen as the creative core of a restructured curriculum that is brain compatible.

Capstone Advisor
Dr. Richard Bents