5 Brain Myths That Harm Our Children

Are you left-brained or right-brained focused? Do we really only use 10 percent of our brain?

Many of us have pondered over these questions at one time or another, and some of us may even believe we have a definite answer to one or more of these kinds of brain teasers. However, a scientific study informs us that there is no validity to these questions as they are actually neuromyths, or unscientific ideas about the brain.

The study’s author, Dr. Paul Howard-Jones, reports that misinformation about the brain has contributed to a gap between neuroscience and education. In fact, neuromyths are commonly held by teachers worldwide, which are then translated into misinformed teaching practices.

In this study, researchers questioned teachers in the UK, Holland, Turkey, Greece, and China regarding several brain myths and asked whether they believe them to be true. Such as:

  • Myth 1: Students are either right-brain focused (creative) or left-brained focused (logical)
  • Myth 2: Students only use 10% of their brains
  • Myth 3: Eating sugary snacks increases hyperactivity and reduces focus and attention
  • Myth 4: Students learn better according to one of three learning styles: auditory, kinesthetic, or visual
  • Myth 5: Students require six to eight glasses of water a day to prevent their brains from shrinking

The results indicated that over 90 percent of teachers in all countries believed that students learn better when taught according to their preferred learning style. Over 70 percent believed a student is either left-brain or right-brain focused. Half of the participants also believe that a student’s brain is only 10 percent active and that sugar increases hyperactivity and reduces attention. One quarter believed that the brain will shrink without six to eight glasses of water a day.

Myth Busters

Dr. Howard-Jones stated, “These ideas are often sold to teachers as based on neuroscience — but modern neuroscience cannot be used support them.” Unfortunately, information about the brain can lead to misunderstandings regarding educational practices in the classroom. This can make it difficult for teachers to deduce what information is practical and scientific and what information is false. He asserts that better communication between neuroscientists and teachers are needed to bridge the gap between science and education.

Teachers Can Help

According to researchers, one of the goals in writing about neuromyths was to emphasize how important teachers are to dispel them. The ultimate message of the article was “we’ve got a problem here, and it can only be solved by neuroscientists and educators talking to each other.”

Much of the scientific, trustworthy information is often difficult for the general public to access and interpret because of the heavy use of jargon. Scientists from all fields need to share their research beyond their academic and scientific communities to benefit public policy and practice.

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