How Do Myths About The Brain Affect Education?

How Do Myths About The Brain Affect Education?

How Do Myths About The Brain Affect Education?Imagine a student who is approximately ten years old and has difficulty with math. What happens if the child’s math teacher believes there is a critical age range for mathematical development and the student is now beyond that age range?

If this scenario were to play out, the teacher might give up on trying to help the pupil develop their mathematical talents since they feel that a person’s mathematical aptitude is fixed after a certain sensitive period.’

You might even be questioning whether or not this is true right about now.

It is not, as there is no “critical era” for mathematical talents.

Nevertheless, in this instance, a teacher’s misconceptions about how the brain works were detrimental to a student’s education and prospects.

This is only one example of how myths about the brain significantly impact education in general and teaching in particular.

Therefore, do educators believe in any other myths about the human brain? And what, exactly, is the reality underlying these misconceptions?

Let’s investigate the reality behind some widely held misconceptions about the brain and its role in education, shall we?


The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in the United Kingdom is credited for popularizing the term “neuromyth” by employing it to refer to misconceptions about the brain resulting from misinterpreted scientific research being used in the realm of education. In many cases, the addition of scientific terminology assists in the promotion of wrong ideas without criticism.

For instance, the statement that “people may always enhance their talents by working hard” is more likely to be criticized than the statement that “we only use 10 percent of our brains.”

Read Also: Cognitive Dissonance: What Does It Do To Our Brain?

In most cases, only members of the scientific community have access to accurate answers to these urban legends; the general public cannot learn the truth about them. As a result, these misconceptions have spread like wildfire, which has led to incorrect instructional policies being implemented in classrooms.

How does one respond to something like this? Through the acquisition and application of accurate information! We must arm ourselves with facts to protect ourselves from the spread of such unscientific and contagious ideas. Bridges of accurate information need to be built to close the knowledge gap between researchers who study the brain and educators who work directly with “brains” in the classroom.

Myths about the brain that are prevalent among educators

When we hear the word “myth,” many of us automatically assume that it refers to something less prominent in the developed world or that it is prevalent only in specific cultures that are very far distant from our own. Despite this, research conducted on teachers in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Turkey, Greece, and China indicated that neuromyths are prevalent in all of these nations at comparable levels!

For instance, a stunning 93 percent of teachers in the United Kingdom believed that students learned better when they were taught in a manner tailored to their individual ‘learning style.’ This belief is shared by 96–97 percent of teachers in other nations. It should come as no surprise that teachers throughout the world believe these falsehoods.

Let’s take a look at some of the most widely circulated misconceptions about teaching that have been reported by international communities of educators, as well as the truths that lie beneath those myths.

The myth of the “10 percent” of the brain

The idea that “we only employ roughly 10 percent of our brains” is the most widespread misconception concerning the human mind. Obviously, this is not even close to being true. The brain has a natural tendency to eliminate connections useless to an organism or have no bearing on its existence. If this myth were accurate, then all of us would have lost ninety percent of the parts of our brains that are considered to be unused. People who suffer injuries to even relatively minor parts of their brains as a result of accidents frequently experience the loss of essential functions, such as the ability to move and communicate, which is evidence that all of our brain tissues carry out important functions and that nothing can be discarded because of this.

This misconception is perilous because it misleads people into thinking that their true intelligence or other abilities are significantly higher than what they are currently displaying. This, of course, is not the case at all. Even though there is room for us to make some improvements, our performance is typically a strong indicator of our capabilities and intellect.

The fallacy behind the learning style myth

Many educators subscribe to the theory that each student has a ‘preferred learning style,’ according to which some students are more adept at acquiring information through visual aids. In contrast, others are more adept at acquiring information through auditory or kinesthetic means. This causes teachers to expend a significant amount of time and effort to instruct each child using a method that corresponds to their “alleged” preferred mode of learning; yet, the question remains as to whether or not “learning styles” truly exist.

Researchers have been unable to uncover any evidence that would lend credence to the notion that people may be divided into the ‘broad’ categories of visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners. The fact that most of the evidence in favor of this myth is derived from the self-reports of learners, which is rarely a reputable source, does not help matters.

The myth of the left brain and the right brain

The idea that individuals’ predominate hemispheres of the brain are responsible for their unique set of skills and capabilities is perpetuated by this urban legend. According to this theory, people with more activity in their “right brain” are creatively gifted, whereas those with more activity in their “left brain” are more logical in their thinking. Some educators believe that workouts that focus on coordination can help increase communication between the two hemispheres.

Both of the brain’s hemispheres perform the same range of actions because similar to our own hands, the two halves of the brain are functionally equivalent. Because of this, one brain hemisphere might be used for a certain purpose, much like most of us are more comfortable writing with our right hand. However, utilizing our right-hand does not confer any special powers on us, nor does it entail that our left hand cannot do the same duty as our right hand!

The concept of hemisphere specialization has been exaggerated, which has led to the misconception that people can either have a “right brain” or a “left brain.” This idea has been blown out of proportion. Additionally, crosstalk between the two hemispheres is not dependent on exercises that focus on “coordination.” Instead, it depends on fibers that connect the two halves of the brain, and these fibers cannot be altered by moving your body in any way!

Myths about the critical period

Because studies have shown that it is easier to learn a language before the age of ten, it follows that a child who does not have any opportunity to listen to speech until they reach that age will not develop the ability to communicate verbally. This time frame is frequently referred to as the “critical period” for the evolution of language.

On the other hand, this concept has been oversimplified to indicate that there is a sensitive phase for general brain growth as well as all sorts of learning, which is not the case. Because of this fallacy, many parents feel pressured to start their children on various educational experiences early. Teachers who hold this belief may give up trying to assist pupils who lag behind their peers in mathematics or science after a time that is considered sensitive because they believe the students’ talents cannot be enhanced anymore.

The reality is that the brain is very similar to a muscle in that it is constantly capable of changing when fresh inputs are presented to it. Because the brain possesses a trait referred to as “neuroplasticity,” which allows it to adapt itself based on the information that it receives, training can always help to increase abilities. This ability does not change with age, and there is no window of vulnerability associated with it.


There are several misconceptions about the human brain that are widespread among educators all over the world. Some examples of these misconceptions include the “ten percent” brain myth and the “left brain” and “right brain” myths. A good number of these misconceptions result from oversimplification or incorrect interpretation of scientific facts based on a study.

It is not right to ‘push them under the rug’ or think of these neuromyths as unimportant because they can lead to improper teaching practices in classrooms and eventually hinder schoolchildren’s future. This is why it is not right to think of them as unimportant.

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