Neuroscience gives food for thought, not a diet of bias

Catherine Paver

Tom Bennett's pub rant against neuroscientists ("Teachers, don't use your brains", TESPro, 13 April) contained no facts - only prejudice. He had one point: there are some "snake-oil salesmen in education" whose claims about their classroom brain exercises have no foundation in science. However, it was wrong of Bennett to confuse these people with the neuroscientists themselves, who are not trying to sell us things.

Neuroscience deserves better than to be caricatured as "pictures of brains with bits coloured in". Nor is it irrelevant to teachers. Recent research shows that children are motivated to work harder when they know about "brain plasticity" (how the brain forms connections between neurons when it learns something new). Brain capability is not fixed; it grows. It will do so only if its owner is curious, though, which Bennett is not.

The human brain is the most complicated thing in the universe. A writer who uses rhetoric to justify his own prejudice is one of the simplest. What is the world's leading educational newspaper doing giving him a platform? Those who share his lack of curiosity - a strange thing in a teacher - will now feel justified in sticking their heads in the sand.

Catherine Paver, Secondary English teacher, Teddington.

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Catherine Paver

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