05 May 2006

De-bunking psychology myths

It was good to read that American child psychologists have lodged an official complaint against claims for 'brain-development' videos made by companies such as Baby Einstein (owned by Disney and available in the UK from Mothercare), Brainy Baby and Baby Genius. These are targeted at under-2s. Apparently 49% of American parents surveyed in a study by Kaiser Family Foundation believed they were important in their children's education (possibly wishful thinking, since they provide an easy pacifier for busy parents). (Just as video games don't cause ADHD, so videos can hardly create geniuses.)

Another candidate for de-bunking might be the Brain Gym craze which is sweeping state schools as a training package for teachers. It claims to stimulate learning through a series of, mainly, hand-eye coordination tasks with some pretty dubious psychology behind them. There's also a lot of nonsense about drinking water and holding it in your mouth so it can be absorbed directly by the brain. Bad Science has done a pretty good assassination job on them but it seems to have had only limited impact and schools continue to pay out for the company to run teacher training days.

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