I wonder if anybody remembers Brain Gym? I wrote about them a couple of times in 2003 (links below). They’re a strange bunch who seem to get into lots of UK state schools at the taxpayers expense, where they share pearls of wisdom such as: â€œFocus is the ability to coordinate the back and front areas of the brainâ€¦Centering is the ability to coordinate the top and bottom areas of the brainâ€¦ Brain Gym movements interconnect the brain in these dimensions.â€
There’s not a lot I could get hold of publicly, so I was relying on moles. One teacher who was horrified to find it in his school told me: â€œBrain Gym appears to comprise a series of simple hand-eye coordination tasks which allegedly improve learning. Before doing these tasks, children are required to take a swig of water and hold it in their mouths for a few seconds until the teacher tells them they can swallow. When I asked why, the teacher, who had been sent on a Brain Gym course by the school, informed me that the water was partially absorbed through the roof of the childrenâ€™s mouths and was absorbed by the brain, improving learning.â€
Another teacher was told by the Brain Gym instructor in a UK state school that after watching telly your brain goes to sleep for eight hours: â€œVery precise about that, she was. But donâ€™t worry, as long as you sit with your ankles crossed and make a funny shape with your hands this will â€˜protect you from the electro-magnetic raysâ€™. She was even kind enough to post me the handouts detailing the Pace [positive-active-clear-energetic] which â€˜increases and balances electrical energy to the neocortex _ allowing reason rather than reaction (choice)â€™ and â€˜increases polarity across cell membranes for more efficient thought processingâ€™.â€
The hand out also featured a rather excellent exercise called “Brain Buttons”: â€œWhile holding the navel area with one hand, rub with the thumb and finger of other on hollow areas just below the collar bone on each side of the sternum.â€ Why? Because, you heartless cynics, â€œbuttons above carotid artery supply fresh oxygenated blood to brain, helps lung/brain function â€¦ and brings attention to gravitational centre of body.â€
Anyway, the trouble is, all this dressed up pseudoscience is peddled to the children too, by their teachers, science teachers too, as fact. One kid wrote in triumphantly to Bad Science at the time to say: â€œIâ€™d like to submit the revision advice of my teacher. She claims that because the brain works by transmitting electricity through water, drinking more water will improve mental performance.â€
Anyway, I just re-read my notes on the subject and got all annoyed by the dreadful injustice of it all all over again, hence the call to arms: I need more field reports on these people.
Are you a teacher? Have you encountered Brain Gym in UK schools? Do you know anyone who has? Are you a cheeky schoolkid? Please do ask around, it’s in a very good cause, you can email me assured of anonymity, or post below, to your taste. I’m chasing up a few leads, but I need… more… data…
Tell your friends.