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Home > Perform > Academic
Questions for Authorities

How to evaluate whether brainwave biofeedback is an appropriate addition to schools.

Questions for School Authorities

by Gary Ames

 

 

Neurofeedback is mental focus and attention training using computer assisted feedback.  It involves a new paradigm, I want to ask about your core principles and your record of support for new initiatives.  What is your approach when considering a new educational program?

 

Please think about educational initiatives or learning programs you have already supported and opposed.  Can you list some on both sides?

What evidence, issue, or reason placed it on one side or the other?

 

1 a. Supported adoption of program.  - Reason

 

2 a. Supported adoption of program.  - Reason

 

1 b. Opposed adoption of program.  - Reason 

 

2 b. Opposed adoption of program.  - Reason 

 

Have you established a minimal proof requirement for new initiatives?  What evidence quality, authority, diversity of scientific research, prestigious recommendations, etc. are proper for the District’s approval process?  How much is enough for you?

 

What factors into the return on educational investment and makes for a “go decision”?  What is your test of support or your cost / benefit effectiveness formula? 

 

If a safe and effective learning initiative with extraordinary promise for dramatic benefits for all students (especially those most in need and the most expensive), and that: 

fits into the District’s Mission,

folds neatly into the Strategic Plan,

furthers the Vision (in a foundational way),

is self-funding within a short time,

and meets many of the Goals that the District has laid out --

what else do you need?

 

What does “data driven decision making” mean to you?

 

Do you believe in delegating authority and control down to lower local levels for  implementation, while retaining responsibility and oversight?

 

Everyone agrees that neurofeedback is safe.  Or can easily be even safer.

What history, assurances or comparisons do you require? 

What would it take for you to believe it enough to remove the issue as a barrier? 

 

 

TO SUPPORTERS

Do you believe we will need a larger room to hand out end-of-year awards after adopting a broad neurofeedback initiative?  What award categories will be impacted?

 

True or False: 

When a teacher does neurofeedback training, it can be called “education”.
Is that a case you feel comfortable/passionate about making?

 

How would you challenge the critics of neurofeedback who say neurofeedback is:  

  “Not education.”   

  “Only experimental.”

  “We are not licensed for that.”

  “That’s a medical procedure.”  or  “We don’t do therapy.”

  “Everyone would have to sign a waiver.”

  “Not safe enough ... insurance and litigation problems.”

  “No darn good.”

  “Balderdash!”

 

Do you feel the District needs any special parental permission to fulfill it’s mission using neurofeedback?

 

What delays and barriers are expected and what is too much?

 

Do you support a broad and dispersed pilot program introducing multiple kinds neurofeedback applications in several schools, (all at about the same time), to get a diverse and useful base of experience for the second stage?  If not, why not.  If not, when?  

 

Do you feel that the brightest students and regular students should be an important group for initial introductions to ensure that neurofeedback does not get a “special” reputation?

 

WHO IS QUALIFIED TO COMMENT?

 

Paradigm shifts are uncomfortable.  Experts in education, science, medicine, Special Ed., ADHD and learning disorders have their history, reputation and practices at stake when they admit that: something very different from what they do, is rather good.  Can you list the kinds of financial conflicts of interest that would disqualify a nay-sayer or must be disclosed as part of their input?

 

Who should be allowed, and not allowed to register an unbiased concern?

 

What qualifications must someone possess and not possess to advice the District?

 

How much evidence, of what kind, from what source, with what consistency, would it take for you to support neurofeedback? 

 

 

CURRENT PRACTICES

 

Post hoc, ergo proctor hoc. 

This is a Latin phrase meaning “after the fact, therefore because of the fact.”

This is the rationale always used in an educational outcome study. 

“We did this, and look how well it worked!” 

 

In formal logic, ‘Post hoc, ergo proctor hoc’  is the name of a logical fallacy.

The explanation is that everything has multiple causes.  To identify just one “reason for” a change within a complicated system is not supportable logically. 

 

What evidence besides outcome studies does the District use as proof for effectiveness when adopting or deciding to continue programs? 

 

The following programs were adopted by and are currently supported by the District for Special Needs.  By what process, and with what criteria of proof, were the following educational programs deemed acceptable to the District?

 

Orton Gillingham,

The Wilson Reading System,

Fast Forward,

Lindamood-Bell,

Resource Room,

Instructional Support Lab,

SRA

REACH,

N.O.W.

P.R.I.D.E.

Specialized Learning Support. 

Adaptive Instructional Technologies.

 

Do any of the current special education programs regularly demonstrate reduction of medication? 

Do any report 10 to 20 point IQ jumps as commonplace?  

 

What evidence of effectiveness justifies the continuation of a current program? 

Which ones are due for withdrawal of support, to fund more promising initiatives?

 

Do you have, or do you favor, a standard policy for IEP requests under 504, asking for neurofeedback?

 

By what criteria will you decide your support?  What trusted experts would you consult and what qualifications must an advisor have to be an expert?  How specifically knowledgeable on neurofeedback itself must a resource be, to still be credible and heeded?  How naďve in the actual practice can an ‘expert/advisor’ be?  

 


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