What side of the brain is good for math?

Jan 13, 2022 | Red Deer


Try googling it using the same exact words. The answer would be … Left.

Hmmmm … but is it really? ðŸ¤” .. Be careful of what you read on Google. Larry Martinek, the inventor of Mathnasium Method, debunked this myth. In math, the left brain is used for doing computation, but math is much broader than just doing arithmetic activity. Imagine if an elementary student is asked:

  • An octopus lives in an underwater garden that is shaped like a rectangle. The fence around the garden is 7 metres on the long sides and 5 metres on the short sides. How many metres of fence go around it?

This requires visualizing the problem, creatively conceiving it and perhaps even doing drawings – which is requires use of the right brain, or the “creative side” of the brain. The left brain can answer “7+7+5+5” easily but to understand what is going on so that a student can come up with the number operation, it requires approach that activates the creative side.

Another example is to solve this more abstract problem:

  • Seth and his brothers Theo, Gage and Che are comparing their heights. Che’s height is between Theo and Gage. If Theo is the second shortest, who is the shortest?

These are examples in a basic/elementary level. As time goes on, the problems will get more complex, and they need to be able to see a problem from many sides and angles. A student cannot just stick in a procedural, left brained approach to problem solving.

So, the truth is, both sides of brain work together to solve math problems. Relying on just using left brain is just like relying on a calculator; as a tool it is very useful but the whole analysis and problem solving needs the dynamic duo!!


Mathnasium of Red Deer is your neighbourhood’s math only learning centre, and we can help your child forming good study habits! Our centre director, Riwan Prasatya, would be happy to meet you! We are conveniently located in the shopping destination area in Red Deer: 5250 22nd St, Unit 30 B – at the Gaetz Avenue Crossing shopping centre, in the same area as Chapters Indigo/Starbucks, Michael Arts, Petland and Ashley, and the phone number is 403-872 MATH (6284).

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