Teaching children according to their individual “learning style” does not achieve better results and should be ditched by schools in favour of evidence-based practice, according to leading scientists. Thirty eminent academics from the worlds of neuroscience, education and psychology have signed a letter to the Guardian voicing their concern about the popularity of the learning style approach among some teachers. They say it is ineffective, a waste of resources and potentially even damaging as it can lead to a fixed approach that could impair pupils’ potential to apply or adapt themselves to different ways of learning.
Nick Gibbs MP, one of UK’s Education Ministers, spoke on ‘the importance of an evidence-informed profession’ on February 16th at the University of Buckingham.
“Debunking the neuro-myths that surround teaching is an important endeavour as, unchecked, they can pervade classrooms throughout the country, damaging educational achievement. A decade ago, the neuro-myth of Brain Gym was prevalent in England’s schools. In schools afflicted by Brain Gym, pupils were instructed to activate their brains by rubbing so-called ‘brain buttons’, located in different areas of the body. By having pupils rub their clavicle, various regions of the brain would light up – so went the theory. In the oddest cases, pupils were instructed to slowly sip water in the hope that water would be absorbed into the brain via the roof of the mouth, thus hydrating the brain!”
A non-profit organisation called Drogfritt (roughly translated to “no drugs”) is regularly hired by 65 (out of 290) Swedish communes, for lecturing about narcotics in Swedish public schools. Most of the employees of the organisation are Scientologists and their lectures are based on material from Narconon, a well known Scientological subsidiary. A representative from Drogfritt says he on average delivers “250-300 lectures per year” in Swedish public schools.
The target audience is children aged 14-15 years and many of the school officials seem unaware of the link between Drogfritt and Scientology.
The contents of the lectures are now criticized by internal school inspectors and an associate professor at the University of Malmö for being very misleading and factually incorrect.