Sunday, September 30, 2012

Neuroscientists on Whole Brain Teaching

From (thanks, Another Hole Brain Director!)
NORTH CANTON: When Chris Biffle called out the word “Class!” Wednesday morning at Walsh University, 450 teachers and administrators yelled back, “Yes!”

“Class class?” he said.

“Yes! Yes!” they replied.

“Classity classity,” he said.

“Yessity yessity,” they chanted back.

The method might be fun, engaging and popular, judging by teacher testimonials and company-conducted polls.

But the techniques are not validated by contemporary brain research, according to two experts in the relationship between neuroscience and education who reviewed the claims for the Akron Beacon Journal.

“Nothing I see here indicates that there is any neuroscientific backing for anything they’re suggesting,” said Dan Willingham, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Virginia.

The Beacon Journal also asked David Daniel, managing editor of the peer-reviewed science journal Mind, Brain and Education to examine the research page at

“I think he has these ideas that may or may not work, and he’s using brain stuff to market them,” said Daniel, a psychology professor at James Madison University. “The brain stuff on the web page is very cursory, very shallow. That could be just his way of communicating or it could be his level of understanding. Either way, it’s misleading.”

Jeff Battle, a middle school science teacher in North Carolina who says he keeps current on brain research for the company, said teachers aren’t bound by the same level of scientific rigor as neuroscientists.

“I’m not going to give a Ph.D.-level dissertation to a kindergarten teacher who wants to have a vague idea of why this is working so they can explain it if they need to,” Battle said. “We’re not pure science, we’re practitioners who are applying what we’ve learned so far.”

But, Daniel said, when educators misrepresent the science, they make it harder for researchers who are struggling to translate neuroscience into something teachers can reliably use in the classroom.

“It drowns out the softer voice of what’s credible. That’s what’s harmful,” Daniel said. “There are people doing really good work who, if they had a chance, would love to be helping teachers. But they’re getting drowned out by people who are better at marketing, better at speaking and better at selling.”

Notice the completely patronizing tone Jeff Battle takes about kindergarten teachers, as if it's their fault that he's peddling pseudo-scientific crap. Give me a break!

1 comment:

  1. I think these folks would get a lot less flack if it weren't for their ridiculous name. Call it Controlling Your Classroom or something like that, because that is what it is. I don't care for most of their stuff, a bit corny for my liking, but there are some things that work...for controlling my classroom....not teaching to the whole brain.

    A second thing that rubs me the wrong way is that it's clearly a money making maching, regardless if they give most of their stuff away for free. It's like the time-share scam...come for a free night and all you have to do is listen to our sales pitch. Same exact thing. Here are some free downloads and if you want a Free training, just give us a couple thousand dollars and travel expenses and we're there!