Barbara Arrowsmith agreed to an interview with LearnFast during her speaking tour of Australia & New Zealand in June.
Because she had so much information and so many insights to share, I will be writing a series of blogs to communicate her thoughts to our readers. Here is the first one which lists 7 of the many things that caught my attention. Her comments on each of these are below in “quotes”. Future blogs will cover some of these points in more detail, as well as other fascinating ideas.
Every student has the right to improved learning capacity
The biggest challenge to improving the learning capacity of every child
Cognitive deficit – not learning disability or learning difficulty
How cognitive deficits impact personality development
The Arrowsmith program confirms that brains can change at any age
Adults make progress at about the same speed as children
Some parents and teachers are fantastic advocates for change
1. Every student has the right to improved learning capacity
Barbara Arrowsmith expressed a very similar vision to that of LearnFast - all students should be able to develop their learning capacity in the first few years at school.
“I believe every child, whether they have a learning difficulty or not, can benefit from good cognitive stimulation”, she said. "If that was addressed just as a part of the curriculum in the first few school years, I believe the individuals that have come to me would never have ended up coming to me. I think it would make such a huge difference”.
2. The biggest challenge to improving the learning capacity of every child
Barbara answered this question with an inspiring and hopeful message that will be covered in detail in a future blog post. Some of the main ideas include:
- The means to improve learning capacity comes out of neuroscience
- The Arrowsmith Program “comes out of neuroscience as does Fast ForWord and Cogmed"
- The pre-neuroplastic paradigm of much of education needs to change
- A totally different premise is needed. “We can change the cognitive function of the learner. A learner isn’t fixed”.
3. Cognitive deficit – not learning disability or learning difficulty
Barbara Arrowsmith prefers the term “cognitive deficit” to “learning disability” or “learning difficulty”. She commented “I like cognitive deficit better than a learning disability because, to me, cognitive deficit is, you're looking at a component. You're not looking at an overall functioning”.
4. How certain cognitive deficits impact personality development
Barbara says one of the questions really interesting her is how cognitive deficits may impact on an individual’s personality development. She said, “I know in my life, the very nature of the difficulty led to a very specific way of having to experience the world, which led to certain personality characteristics”.
5. The Arrowsmith program confirms that brains can change at any age
The ages of people on the Arrowsmith program range from 5 years to 81 years. Barbara’s comment: “To me it was exciting that there is neuroplasticity and the capacity of the brain to change across the whole lifespan”.
6. Adults make progress at about the same speed as children
“When I first started this work, I thought children were going to make much faster progress, but I didn't see that. I saw the same progress in the 10-year olds as I saw in a 70-year old, which, to me, was really exciting. And that's played out over the years. I don't see a difference in different ages”.
7. Some parents and teachers are fantastic advocates for change
Parents and teachers who understand the power of cognitive exercises are doing great work as advocates for a new paradigm of education.