The Arrowsmith Program

No-one knows more about what goes on in our heads than Canadian Barbara Arrowsmith-Young. Known as ’the woman who  changed her brain’, Barbara was born with learning difficulties and through her amazing determination she made it to college where she discovered neuroplasticity research that inspired her to develop cognitive exercises to ‘rewire’ her own brain. 

 Barbara went on to develop one of the first practical applications of neuroplasticity to address specific learning difficulties,  known as the Arrowsmith Program of cognitive exercises. This program was offered to students in 1978 and the first  Arrowsmith School was established in 1980 and it has operated continuously in Toronto since then. This transformational  Arrowsmith Program is now being implemented in over 90 schools across 6 countries including Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

The Arrowsmith Program identifies areas of learning strength and weakness through a detailed one on one assessment process and then designs a program of individualised exercises for a student to target their precise areas of weakness. 

The Arrowsmith Program is founded on neuroscience research and over thirty years of experience demonstrating that it is possible for students to strengthen the weak cognitive capacities underlying their learning dysfunctions through a program of specific cognitive exercises. It is based on the principle of neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to physically change in response to stimulus and activity; to develop new neuronal/synaptic interconnections and thereby develop and adapt new functions and roles believed to be the physical mechanism of learning. Neuroplasticity refers to structural and functional changes in the brain that are brought about by training and experience.

Research in neuroscience is leading to new insights into the ways in which the brain changes in response to experience and points to the conclusion that the brain is not static but rather is dynamically changing and undergoes such changes throughout one's entire life.

Students with learning difficulties have traditionally been treated with programs designed to compensate for their difficulties - students who have difficulty with handwriting, for example, would be taught to use a keyboard or accommodated with more time to write exams. 

The Arrowsmith Program  addresses the cognitive learning capacity of students who experience difficulties in learning.

The goal of the Arrowsmith Program is to help students strengthen the weak cognitive capacities underlying their learning difficulties. The Arrowsmith Program deals with the root causes of the learning difficulty rather than managing its symptoms.

The aim of the program is to help students become effective, confident and self-directed learners. 

For more information please visit the Canadian Arrowsmith Website

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