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Information & Advice

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Welcome to BRAINHE

Brain.HE is a non-commercial/non-profit-making resource website for students and staff in higher education. We are hosted by the London School of Economics' Neurodiversity Team and are supported by the LSE Annual Fund, and as such we disseminate information about the Disability Equality Research Network (DERN). All new information published has been reviewed by the BRAINHE Editorial Board. Author guidance is available; please see the 'Contact' link above.

Sebastiaan (Webmaster) maintains the site, including the events calendar. Please contact Sebastiaan if you have an event to promote which relates to neurodiversity in post-compulsory, higher or adult education anywhere in the world, and/or you have an article you would like to publish on the website. Sebastiaan will ensure that two members of the Editorial Board review your article. We aim to give feedback within four weeks. Please use the subject header BRAIN.HE article or BRAIN.HE event when contacting him. The Editorial Board members (in alphabetical order) are: Sheila Blankfield, Sebastian Boo, Ross Cooper, Linda Kelland, Nicola Martin, Anna Robinson and Jane Sedwick.

We support the 'social model of disability' and use the term neurodiversity to encompass the types of brain currently associated with 'specific learning difficulties' (UK) and 'learning disabilities' (USA), as well as Meares-Irlen syndrome, Tourette's, stroke survivors and mental well-being issues. Click here for information about the history of BRAINHE.

We realise that this site is somewhat text-heavy. Unfortunately, we can no longer afford a speech engine for the site. Visitors may like to download a free screen reader; the website Dyslexia the Gift has links to a range of them on this page .


Mindmap of BRAINHE homepage



The Holist Manifesto

The holist manifesto is based on principles of the social model of disability and neurodiversity.  It is also underpinned by two realisations that were first articulated in the Bagatelle Model of specific learning differences (Cooper, 2010).  The first is that all people with specific learning ‘difficulties’ have two things in common: a strong need to process information holistically for them to be meaningful and difficulties with working memory.  The second realisation is that apparent ‘difficulties’ with working memory are a product of a strong need to process information holistically, since unlike sequential processing, holistic processing requires imagination rather than working memory.  This then makes holistic learners vulnerable to the charge of appearing to have ‘difficulties’ with any process which requires working memory.  (Sequential thinkers could be vulnerable to the charge of a lack of imagination, but sadly, schools are rarely concerned with this inability).

The school sector is dominated by the requirement to process information sequentially, depending on working memory and indeed  rote learning creating significant barriers to holistic learners.  This is largely because education serves the fundamental purpose of social reproduction.  This requires a close control over what is learned, how it is learned, in what order, and how it is assessed.  Consequently, holistic learners are unintentional casualties of this arbitrary imposition.  We are systematically invalidated, bullied, humiliated, punished, medicated and imprisoned. Yet holistic thinkers (notwithstanding their apparent ‘difficulties’) are at the forefront of original thinking, problem solving and creative endeavours.  The world needs us rather more than we need them.  The political implications are that we need to challenge the imposition of sequential thinking, teaching and assessment.  There should be no tyranny of ‘experts’, no ‘remediation’ without representation.  Holistic approaches and values should be supported in a context of the free association of ideas.  Together we represent at least 20% of the population. We are entitled to be different and to learn and work differently for the benefit of all.  This is not just about education, it is time for a political and social agenda of neuro-liberation.

BRAIN.HE supports this manifesto. The text above is an abstract of Ross Cooper's full manifesto, which can be seen here.



What's New in 2013?



January - March 2013

The Disability Equality Research Network


DERN has been set up at the London School of Economics to provide disability researchers the opportunity to share their work and to receive constructive feedback. Scholars from a variety of disciplines have expressed an interest in the network. DERN may be useful if you are researching anything with a broad disability equality theme or if you are a disabled researcher engaging with any theme. If you would like to join DERN please click here.


Previous "What's New" Posts from 2011 & 2012




What is Neurodiversity?

We prefer the word neurodiversity to other words or phrases, not only because we include such a range of brain types (which may not always be associated with an educational context), but also because it is a more "user friendly" term. Within neurodiversity, we include stroke survivors and those with mental health issues.  Terminology is a tricky issue and there are different views of the term 'neurodiversity'.  Mary Colley from the UK Developmental Adult Neurodiversity Association (DANDA) has some thoughts on this subject.



What does this site offer?