Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Brain-based Conductive Education

Where do you stand?

Norman Perrin knows well my scepticism about ‘brain-based education’ and has generously provided me with a recent review article in the American journal Phi Delta Kappan, by Eric Jensen, that would probably include me amongst ‘the voices [that] are no longer a chorus [but] a diminishing whine’. Empirically he may be right in this as a description of the present acceptance of brain-based education.

Norman’s letter arrived soon after I had introduced second-year student-conductors to John Bruer’s important paper from 1997. They always groan when the see the length and solidity of this but there is no substitute for reading it. Eric Jensen’s paper is pretty long too and attempts the opposite case. Since the assignment for that module is now complete only the most assiduous of those students will address this second paper – perhaps next year’s second-year students will have no choice!

Why is this important here? Because some extraordinary brain-based assertions have attached to Conductive Education. My personal least favourite is to hear and read, again and again, how ’Conductive Education rewires the brain’. It is not just students who would benefit from a more critical, pedagogic and extra-cerebral stance.


Eric P. Jensen (2008) A fresh look at brain-based education, Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 89, No. 6

John T. Bruer, (1987) Education and the brain: a bridge too far, Educational Researcher, vol 26, no 8, pp. 4-16

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