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Myth H: Brain, games and learning

Teachers have always offered rewards (whether they are prizes, points or praise) for achievement. Usually, teachers strive to ensure reward consistency, e.g. that every pupil with a correct answer should receive a point. Yet researchers have struggled to find any relationship between the rewards offered and learning achieved. In contrast, there seems a strong relationship between how the brain responds to reward and the likelihood of learning.

Myth G: Drinking water

Drinking water is often promoted as a way to improve learning and it is true that even mild dehydration can reduce our ability to think . However, a recent adult study has shown that drinking water when not thirsty can also diminish cognitive ability . Luckily, forgetting to drink water is not usually a problem, because our brains have evolved a sophisticated system that makes us thirsty when our bodies (and brains) need more fluid.

Myth F: Learning styles

When Howard-Jones and colleagues surveyed 158 graduate beginning teachers about to enter secondary schools , we found that 82% considered teaching to children’s learning styles could improve outcomes. Learning preferences do exist, in the sense that different individuals may prefer to receive information in different way. For example, it is possible to categorise learners’ preferences in terms of VAK: Visual, Kinaesthetic or Auditory. However, there seems little educational value in doing so. The functionality of different brain regions is sometimes used to support learning style theory.

Myth E: Caffeine and alertness

Regular drinking of caffeinated drinks reduces alertness - regular caffeine, e.g. two cans of caffeinated soft drink a day, reduces children’s cognitive function by initiating counter-regulatory changes in the brain.

Myth D: Sugar, snacks and attention

Children are more attentive after sugary drinks and snacks. Although not healthy in other ways, sugary snacks actually increase attention.

Myth C: Co-ordination excercises

Brain scans indicate that it is a myth that co-ordination exercises can improve integration of left and right hemispheric brain function.


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