A contentious brain-training program that claims to overcome learning difficulties will be offered in Sydney's Catholic school system next year as part of a two-year research project to assess the benefits for students, reports The Australian.
The Catholic Education Office Sydney will offer 20 students enrolled in its schools in years 9 and 10 next year the option of trying the Arrowsmith program -- 19 brain exercises claiming to address cognitive functions causing problems in students.
The program was developed by Canadian Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, who claims she "changed her brain" and overcame her own learning difficulties after devising these exercises based on neuroscientific research.
But the Arrowsmith program has been widely criticised. Linda Siegel, a professor in special education and fellow Canadian at the University of British Columbia, said there was "absolutely no evidence" the program was effective in overcoming learning difficulties.
Director of curriculum in the Sydney diocese Seamus O'Grady said the organisation was very cautious about implementing the program, but had been impressed by the anecdotal evidence that it helped students and so decided to offer it as part of a research and development project.
"It's pretty radical but in the past decade in particular there has been a number of books and studies around, people claiming you can reprogram your brain," he said.
"There are always kids for who teachers say 'I can't do anything for that kid, just advise him to leave school', but you wonder if there was anything we could have done that might give them another chance."
FULL STORY Brain training to assist students (Australian)