Traditionally, teachers have relegated students into two camps: those who show potential and those who teachers pass up as being unfit for the academic track. Many schools employ the rout method of learning, and while this serves some students well, for others, this approach leaves them lost in the corridors of our educational system. In comes Brian E. Walsh’s, Unleashing your Brilliance: Tools & Techniques to Achieve Personal, Professional & Academic Success a book that shows us that with the right tools and ingenuity all students can excel.
Walsh exhibits a breath of knowledge in a text that covers every subject from how your brain learns (left and right hemisphere) to different types of intelligence, such as verbal, emotional, musical and naturalistic. After a thorough explanation of the thought process, Walsh offers examples of various learning techniques that can improve our skills, everything from taking short breaks while studying to jump start our thinking, to what types of background music stimulate our thoughts. Explaining everything from hypnosis to positive thinking, we are asked to change our early assumptions of how we were taught to learn.
Mr. Walsh makes many compelling arguments, the first being that schools adhere to conventional teaching methods that do not meet the needs of all students. He stresses that teachers need to understand the different personality types to bring the best out of each student. Tools to enhance learning can be as simple as making certain that students get plenty of physical exercise, to employing varied teaching techniques in the classroom. For instance, if tension arises in the classroom setting, Mr. Walsh suggests that a teacher…”defuse conflicts by balancing structured and unstructured activities through both inductive and deductive course material.” Another topic covered is word-association brainstorming, an exercise that encourages a student to tap their creative energies. Walsh praises techniques like hypnosis and positive thinking. Being a perpetual skeptic, I actually had the opportunity to test this method last week when faced with a daunting project at work. I repeated to myself, “I have the ability to do this job and I will excel.” At first I had absolutely no confidence in myself, but as I continued my mantra I actually found the self-assurance to accomplish the project to my complete satisfaction. Walsh offers the reader these as well as a myriad of other skills to stimulate and enhance learning.
The book is mapped out in logical order, beginning with the physiological and ending with practical techniques for learning. Every chapter has topic headings, and each section is broken up with quotes and/or cartoons that reinforce the material and help the reader remember the content. After each theory is explained, Walsh provides a website address, if the reader wishes to pursue the material further. At the conclusion of each chapter is a crossword puzzle with review questions. This is an extraordinarily enjoyable method to help jolt your memory and retain the information just gathered. The writing style is succinct and well thought out. Walsh successfully employs different teaching styles and techniques with his writing style; in short, Unleashing Your Brilliance mirrors the creative learning approach he is promoting. The book’s premise, that we all learn differently and have the promise to be more effective learners, is a compelling narrative that will change the way you think.
Quill says: A very well written book that challenges traditional learning assumptions.