Barbara Arrowsmith, creator of a cognitive learning method: “I learned how to read a clock at the age of 26”

20/06/19
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The founder of the Arrowsmith programme stated at UIC Barcelona that an individual’s cognitive function can be changed

Barbara Arrowsmith, creator of a cognitive learning method: “I learned how to read a clock at the age of 26”

The director of the educational programme that bears her name, Barbara Arrowsmith, gave a talk at UIC Barcelona entitled: “A neuroscientific approach to tackling learning difficulties.” In her talk she explained how her life changed as soon as cognitive stimulation helped her to overcome her learning difficulties.  “I learned how to read a clock at the age of 26” she said while visiting the university.  

Arrowsmith specified that from when she was young both doctors and teachers warned her mother that she would have learning difficulties.  It was very difficult for her to read a clock, take decisions or understand three-dimensional space.  “I used to spend more time cutting up the thread than I did sowing, because those types of constructions were difficult for me”.   But it was when she was 26 that she was able to start postgraduate studies, where she learned about the research work by Russian scientist and neuropsychologist Aleksandr Luria, who studied traumatic injuries and brain damage. 

A second study, by psychologist and researcher Mark Richard Rosenzweig, also helped her to overcome her learning difficulties.  She said “I took on the challenge to try and change human learning “, during her talk at the Faculty of Education.  

She created a series of cognitive exercises that she has been using for more than 40 years with numerous students in the Arrowsmith School in Toronto, and subsequently in the Arrowsmith Programme: the exercises cover 19 cognitive functions.  

This methodology, based on neuroscience research, demonstrates that students can help themselves overcome learning difficulties. 

“The work we do does not focus on content or skills, but instead on cognitive function in order to strengthen it”.  She pointed out that “schools should teach cognitive exercises” and ended her talk by saying “if students have problems, they stop dreaming.  What these exercises do is to change cognitive function.  Therefore, they can start to dream. They then realise that they can truly live their dreams”.