3 Neuromyths That May Be Hampering Your Child's Education

  • Since safe, reliable neuroimaging technology arrived a few decades ago, we’ve been in a hurry to finally make sense of the brain. After all, it’s a part of the body that seems more complex than any other — 100 billion nerves that communicate through trillions of connections. It determines personality, intelligence, memory, and so much more. No wonder we’ve been desperate to unravel its mysteries.

    However, in our eagerness to understand the brain, we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves. Often, we’ve put two and two together and gotten five or more. This thus caused the spread of “neuromyths” — widespread beliefs about how our brain works that simply aren’t true, or were once thought to be true but have since been disproved. 

    Knowing what’s happening inside the brain has huge implications for teaching and learning. Because of this, well-meaning educators have been quick to adopt early neuroscience ideas in the hope of improving their teaching and providing effective learning methods. Therefore, some of those ideas we now know as neuromyths have filtered into our education systems. This, unfortunately, in some cases, may be hindering our child’s progress in school. 

    Here are three neuromyths that are still popular today:

    Myth 1: “He’s a kinaesthetic learner.”

    For many years, teachers were encouraged to pigeon-hole children into categories of learning style. It was widely believed that all people had a dominant learning style through which they would learn bestThe VARK Learning Style Neuromyth

    The idea that a person had a dominant learning style is very popular still. The theory focuses on the idea that a person is either: a Visual learner who learns best by studying images or graphics;  an Auditory learner who is best guided by listening and discussing; a Reader and writer, or a Kinaesthetic learner who prefers hands-on activities. This is often shortened to VARK. 

    The promotion of the VARK learning styles theory was and is meant to improve teaching. By “understanding” how a student best learns, teaching can be tailored and that student will make more progress. 

    However, the VARK learning styles theory has been widely discredited for lacking any supportive evidence. No evidence is available that suggests that a dominant learning style is a continuous attribute. Neither is there any evidence that assigning a student one particular learning style and largely teaching to suit it improves outcomes for the student. 

    What it means for your child

    Danger lurks in the perpetuation of the VARK learning styles myth. If your child is being labeled with a certain dominant learning style and being taught accordingly, then they may be missing valuable learning opportunities. Schools may also be wasting valuable time on assessing for learning styles and then applying this invalid information. 

    Myth 2: “She’s right-brained. That’s why she’s so creative but can’t do math.”

    It is still widely and wrongly thought that people are either left-brained (and therefore rational and logical) or right-brained (and therefore creative). 

    The Right and Left Brain Neuromyth

    Back in the 1960s, epilepsy researchers discovered that if the connection between the left and right hemispheres of the brain was broken, the two sides would operate independently. This led to the assumption that we now know is incorrect — that we have a “better” or dominant side of the brain that affects our personalities and abilities. 

    It is now known that neither the left or right hemisphere is solely responsible for any personality trait or ability. 

    What it means for your child

    When you start to assume a child is good at certain subjects and therefore can’t do others so well, you are treading on dangerous ground. The child may give up trying in certain areas of the curriculum if they wrongly believe they have little natural ability there

    Myth 3: “We only use 10% of our brain.”

    Nobody knows quite where the idea that we only use 10% of our brain came from. It certainly wasn’t Albert Einstein, although he is often wrongly credited with the theory.

    The 10% of the Brain Neuromyth

    We are now able to examine the brain in such detail that we know that we certainly do use much more than 10% of it. However, it is still a widely held belief. 

    What it means for your child

    This is one neuromyth that may be doing your child’s education no harm. If there is still so much brain apparently unused, there is so much room for self-improvement. It can be inspiring, even though incorrect. 

    The Future of Learning

    As neuroscientists gather more and more evidence, not only will these myths disappear, but more and more useful information about how we learn will be collated. As the months and years go on, this information can be used to produce more solid, evidence-based theories that educators can use to improve their teaching and their students’ learning

    Advances in neuroscience will be accompanied by the increasing use of AI and machine learning, as well as the Internet of Things. All of these will help empower educators, give them a better understanding of their students’ progress and insight into their abilities, and allow them to build personalized curriculums for their students. 

    We are already seeing great results here in Dubai with MetaMindz i-Ready Diagnostic Assessment and Instruction — powerful digital lessons complemented by face-to-face instruction. However, expect more incredible progress in the quality of education over the next decade through the use of more advanced technology.  

    What to do next

    Current evidence-based research suggests that the most effective learning happens after a child is accurately assessed for what they already do and do not know. This is one of many effective learning methods we use at Premier Genie when a child begins a program with us. It allows us to provide a customized learning program, and your child’s progress is repeatedly measured during the program, too. 

    Summer Learning

    It’s not too late to get started this summer. We use our advanced learning methods at our educational summer camps as well. Students who join our Academics Camp Program are taught Math, English Literature, Creative Writing and Science topics from major internationally- recognized curriculums such as IB and the British, American and Indian curriculums.


    Our methods suit children who are looking to learn advanced concepts across all subjects, or those who may have gotten a little behind in school, and everyone in between. Call us now to find out more about how we can help your child reach their maximum potential.