There’s a vast empire of pseudoscience being peddled for hard cash in state schools across the UK and USA; some of Asia and Australia’s been captivated too. It’s a little something called brain gym. It’s persistent in the education system; swallowed whole by teachers, and vomited right back onto the children. And the worst part – it’s riddled with nonsense.
Brain gym leans on a string of complicated and unusual (which is putting it mildly) exercises for kids that ‘enhance the experience of whole brain learning’. They’re very keen on water, for example. “Drink a glass of water before brain gym activities,” they say. “As it is a major component of blood, water is vital for transporting oxygen to the brain.” They emphasis that the water should be held in your mouth, so that it can be absorbed directly into your brain. Remember – next time you drink a glass of water, hold it in your mouth for a few seconds; you don’t want your blood or brain to go drying out, now do you?
Why Not Indulge In a Little Conversation with Brain Gym Himself?
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Me: Tell me, is there anything else that will help me get water to my brain more efficiently?
Brain Gym: How about ‘Brain Buttons’?
Me: I was sarcastic, dammit.
Brain Gym: *oblivious to my protests* Basically, *I groan* you have to make a C shape with your thumb and forefinger and place on either side of the breastbone, just below the collarbone. Gently rub for twenty to thirty seconds whilst placing your other hand on your navel. Change hands and repeat.
I’ll save you the torture that is the rest of the conversation. I’m telling you – worst twenty minuets of my life. He even tried to get me to try! As if I would indulge in such cacophony.
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Apparently, this exercise stimulates the flow of oxygen carrying blood through the carotid arteries. It’s meant to ‘awaken the brain’ and ‘increase concentration and relaxation’. When I asked why, he said, “Brain buttons lie directly over, and simulate the carotid arteries.”
Fat chance. Yes, there are child prodigies and extremely talented adults, but no one can stimulate their arteries – especially not the ones located inside their ribcage.
You may think that this is just some marginal, peripheral trend, running on the sidelines that I picked up on just because I have to. Sorry, but let me reiterate my opening statement:
[Brain gym is practiced] in state schools across the UK and USA; some of Asia and Australia
It’s promoted by local education authorities, funded by the government, and the training counts as professional experience for teachers. But the even bigger problem is that it doesn’t end locally.
You would find it being promoted on the Department for Education and Skills website, and is repeatedly presented as a tool for promoting inclusivity (a falsity Brain Gym repeatedly harped on during our conversation. How the hell is rubbing your temples or chest going to make people like you?
Maybe if they do the exercises to ‘connect the electrical circuits in the body, containing and thus focusing both attention and disorganised energy’, they would finally see how bloody stupid they’re being. Or if that still doesn’t work, perhaps they could try wiggling their ears and fingers as per their holy bible, it would ‘simulate the reticular formation of [their] brain to tune out distracting, irrelevant sounds and tune into language’. Preferably, the language of sense.
But then why do so many people believe in brain gym and its abilities?
Don’t worry, I’m not going to state that it’s the Placebo Effect working – at least not on it’s own. But that’s a post for another time. This has gotten long enough as it is!
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