Brain Gym: was I being flippant?
No. In my keynote the other day I made mention of the intriguing research done by LTS's gaming guru, Derek Robertson, over at the Dundee-based Consolarium, the Scottish Centre for Gaming and Learning, where he saw that a class using Brain Gym actually had a reduced achievement in numeracy.
It was part of a project looking to see what might be gained out of using Dr Kawashima's Brain Training on the Nintendo DS for improving numeracy. Since the aims of the game appeared to ressemble those of the Brain Gym programme, we put a control class alongside a DS-playing and a Brain Gyming class. The results of the project are highly interesting, but would appear to play down the claims of Brain Gym, while revealing a new potential in handheld computing.
I've had a few people here in New Zealand question this research, especially since Brain Gym seems to be held in high regard and is used in a large number of schools here. It got me thinking back to some blog posts I had read about Sergio Della Sala's spotlight talk at the Scottish Learning Festival a couple of weeks ago now. His research from the University of Edinburgh is also debunking the Brain Gym myths.
I don't think some of the Brain Gym stuff is bad per se, but it's surely just a break from whatever is going on in the class at that time. You could also be doing some other stuff, like playing a DS, or making Twitter haiku poetry (in no more than 140 characters). Whatever, but no one programme will ever help raise attainment. Everything needs to work together, all of the time.
Pic: Brain Gym