Paxo Stuffs Brain Gym

The ludicrous “Brain Gym” got the Paxman treatment on “Newsnight”.

You can watch the “Newsnight” broadcast featuring “Brain Gym” here. The relevent item starts 18 minutes in. You can also find a YouTube link on Ben Goldacre’s blog. A commenter on the blog makes some interesting points about the school, of which more anon.

While I am glad television has discovered that this nonsense is being peddled in our schools, it has to be asked what took them so long. Ben Goldacre initially covered it almost five years ago. He followed with columns on 21 February 2006, 18 March 2006, 25 March 2006, 13 June 2006, 16 February 2008 and the above mentioned appeared today.

Brain Gym starts off with the useful but hardly paradigm-busting ideas that not getting dehydrated and regular excercise breaks will help kids concentrate on their lessons but dresses it up with a lot of gobbledy-gook about “pressing brain buttons” and moving blood to the frontal lobes and so on. If you haven’t already, go back and click a link to watch the video, otherwise you might think I’m making this shit up.

The rituals make it seem almost cult-like (well, it was invented in California) and the headteacher’s comments about “brain gym coming into her life” reinforce that impression – replace “brain gym” with “Jesus” and she would sound just like an Evangelical Christian.

One of the commenters on Dr Goldacre’s most recent blog post points out that this school is underperforming and is not in a deprived area, so the Brain Gym does not seem to be working too well. Indeed, at one point the Brain Gym guru working at the school refers to “languaging” so it’s not done her much good either.

This is bad enough but the real scandal is that the Government DOES NOT KNOW how many schools use Brain Gym and thus how much tax-payer’s money is being poured into this whacky scheme. Part of the problem is that schools now have their own staff training budgets and science-ignorant Management Teams and governors can be targetted by snake-oil salesmen.

I would say give control of spending back to the LEAs but as Durham demonstrated, they can’t be trusted either.

Since it is public money they are spending schools should be rquired to publish full information about all money paid to contractors, consultants, gurus etc so at least taxpayers and parents can see what is happening to their money.


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3 Responses to “Paxo Stuffs Brain Gym”

  1. darthtater Says:

    IIRC the brain gym people not only claim that you need to drink large amounts of water to keep your brain “hydrated” but also that you should hold the water in your mouth for some time before swallowing as this would enable it to be absorbed directly into the brain through the roof of the mouth. How cananyone take them seriously?

  2. draust Says:

    darth – do they really say that bit about holding the water in your mouth? Seriously really? That really is … STUPID of truly epic proportions.

  3. darthtater Says:

    If I recall correctly their materials used to say this prior to the first Bad Science article about them – I think they took it out some time after that.

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