Jakarta. Educators are warning parents to take the latest education craze to sweep the nation with a grain of salt, unless scientific research and testing can prove its extraordinary claims are real.
In the training exercises, called “midbrain activation” by proponents, children are led to undertake routine tasks — some apparently impossible — while blindfolded. The promise is that they can boost their mental abilities.
In Indonesia the exercises are offered by Genius Mind Consultancy. Children enroll in two-day courses on the promise that the left and right hemispheres of their brains will be stimulated and encouraged to work in concert, boosting intellectual, reasoning, artistic and motor skills.
Through the blindfold exercises the children are expected to quickly develop improved concentration and the ability to identify objects and even read books with a blindfold on, and, according to GMC practitioners, even predict future events.
Renowned education expert Arief Rachman, who heads the Indonesian office of Unesco, warned that the methods employed by GMC had yet to be scientifically proven. “There should be more in-depth research about this invention,” he said.
Suparman, who chairs the Indonesian Independent Teachers Federation, also called on authorities to be cautious about introducing the method in the country’s schools. “The last thing we need is for this to grow uncontrollably,” he said.
Suparman also said the method should be “treated correctly,” and if it was found to be legitimate, it could become “a new phenomenon that could improve the nation’s education.”
“Teachers will hold the key for tapping children’s potential this way,” he said.
Ery Soekresno, a child psychologist, went one step further, saying “midbrain activation” was potentially harmful because it played down the virtue of hard work over instant gratification.
“Anything instant has an adverse effect on a child,” she said.
Midbrain activation, she continued, gets children to sense an object, without offering a deeper comprehension of what they are seeing. “This will teach children to skim through a subject and not study it more deeply,” Ery said.
The method offered by the company forbids parents, who pay Rp 3.5 million ($400) per child for the two-day course, from attending classes, ostensibly to protect intellectual property rights.
Agus Adji, the owner of a GMC school in Ciledug, Tangerang, admitted that not all children were guaranteed to be able to read blindfolded after taking the course.
He claimed, though, that by the end of the course they should have “a stronger memory and better concentration.”
He also said that a single training session was not enough to bring about the desired results, and that follow-up courses were always needed.
“After children are done with the two-day training, we still monitor them,” he said.
Thousands of children across Indonesia have gone through the midbrain activation method over the past several months, and the Internet has buzzed with stories of blindfolded children reading, even in unfamiliar languages.
Agus predicted that the market for the method would only grow, citing a proclivity among Indonesian parents to sign up for any new phenomenon promising to give their children an educational advantage over their peers.