Brain Gym is not exactly a new concept. Like many of the concepts in education, it’s been around for a while and has experienced waves in popularity. Some might argue that its on the decline. But since I had never heard of it, let alone tried it, I needed to do some digging. If you haven’t heard of it – it’s new to you!
Dr. D and The 26
Brain Gym was created in the 1960’s by Paul and Gail Dennison. The concept was simple enough: 26 specific exercises are used as a routine. Depending on how much you dig, you’ll find that early marketing of Brain Gym maintains exactly what the brain implies. These are 26 exercises designed to stimulate the brain. Exercises like the Cross Crawl or Brain Buttons were initially said to increase neural activity or stimulate the corpus callosum. As a result, it was literally a Brain Gym – you were exercising your brain.
Recently, these claims have been diluted. Brain Gym is now marketed as Educational Kinesiology. The only reference to the brain seems to be more and more restricted to simply say that you are performing the routine in order to improve learning.
Like a lot of concepts or bandwagons in education, there are workshops offered. Brain Gym seems to be fairly regulated in the workshops that it offered. Braingym.org has a complete course listing for those wishing to get involved. Each workshop is part of a progression. Beginners start out at level 1 and can find an expert in their area who will offer a two day course ranging from $375.00 to $450.00.
Level 5 courses aren’t simply relying on the 26 movements anymore. Teachers who will be in Kuala Lumpur in December can take a level 5 course that seem to be based on art and visual skills.
If you’re feeling thrifty, you may decide you want to find one of those instruction books from the 1960’s or even a youtube video. Armed with those tools, you could venture out on your own and give it a whirl.
Decked Out in Lululemon
The brain gym routine of the original 26 is not meant to be an aerobically challenging activity. The point is not to exhaust your students, but to warm them up. The appeal of brain gym could include any number of factors:
- Consistent routine
- Responds to your kinesthetic learners
- Organized activity rather than chaotic free time
- Fast and efficient
Ideally the students would reach a point where the brain gym is an expected routine that provides the intended benefit to your students.
Further posts will explore what those benefits may be, whether this is all a hoax, and what benefits you can come away with.
Consider this your warm-up – now the real work out begins!