The Null Device

Charlie Brooker vs. Brain Gym

Charlie Brooker gets stuck into Brain Gym, a set of alleged brain-enhancing exercises with scant connection to any verifiable reality, which has nonetheless managed to get into the British school system (presumably because the line of bullshit it shills sounds like "fun"):
Brain Gym, y'see, is an "educational kinesiology" programme designed to improve kiddywink performance. It's essentially a series of simple exercises lumbered with names that make you want to steer a barbed wire bus into its creator's face. One manoeuvre, in which you massage the muscles round the jaw, is called the "energy yawn". Another involves activating your "brain buttons" by forming a "C" shape with one hand and pressing it either side of the collarbone while simultaneously touching your stomach with the other hand.
If we mistrust the real world so much that we're prepared to fill the next generation's heads with a load of gibbering crap about "brain buttons", why stop there? Why not spice up maths by telling kids the number five was born in Greece and invented biscuits? Replace history lessons with screenings of the Star Wars trilogy? Teach them how to whistle in French? Let's just issue the kids with blinkers.
Because we, the adults, don't just gleefully pull the wool over our own eyes - we knit permanent blindfolds. We've decided we hate facts. Hate, hate, hate them. Everywhere you look, we're down on our knees, gleefully lapping up neckful after neckful of steaming, cloddish bullshit in all its forms. From crackpot conspiracy theories to fairytale nutritional advice, from alternative medicine to energy yawns - we just can't get enough of that musky, mudlike taste. Brain Gym is just one small tile in an immense and frightening mosaic of fantasy.

There are 2 comments on "Charlie Brooker vs. Brain Gym":

Posted by: anonymoose Mon Apr 7 12:27:40 2008

I remember 'brain buttons' being torn apart in Ben Goldacre's Bad Science in the Guardian a while back. I asked my partner who's an educationalist about this and was told that they teach this nonsense in schools!

Charlie Brooker does great outrage.

Posted by: Greg Tue Apr 8 08:19:27 2008

Apart from the necessary outrage at "brain buttons" being in the curriculum, these are good points about maths and history. (a) It's scary the degree to which everything that is said or done now has to reference some crappy piece of pop culture. I saw the original Star Wars recently and was amazed at how bad it is, yet it seems to now be the mythic and moral basis of our society now. (That Jedi census thing was more fact than joke.) (b) I cringe when science is tarted up in attempt to make it "interesting". It IS interesting, but you need to really understand it to get that across, and few school teachers do.

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