Book Review: Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina

By Karen Fogle

Book: Brain Rules

Big Idea:

There is an abundance of scientific research detailing how the brain works. This information is extremely important for anyone interested in maximizing their performance in various  environments.


Brain Rules was written by Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, affiliate professor at the UW and director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. These interests combine to make a compelling picture of how our brains work and the Brain Rules we need to follow so our brains work their best. Add to this his sense of humor and this book is a must read. If you don’t have time to read the book or are in a great hurry for the information, go to his website and see the 12 brain rules demonstrated by John on video.


John’s thoughts on schools based on Brain Rule #3- Every brain is wired differently.

“Every student’s brain, every employees brain, every customer’s brain is wired differently. That’s the Brain Rule. You can either accede to it or ignore it. The current system of education chooses  the latter, to our detriment.  It needs to be torn down and newly envisioned in a Manhattan Project-size commitment to individualizing instruction. We might, among other things, dismantle all together grade structures based on age.”

“1.)The current system is founded on a series of expectations that certain learning goals should be achieved by a certain age. Yet there is no reason to suspect that the brain pays attention to those expectations. Students of the same age show a great deal of intellectual variability.

2.) These differences can profoundly influence classroom performance. This has been tested. For example, about 10% of students have brains wired to read at the age at which we expect them to read. Lockstep models based simply on age are guaranteed to create a counterproductive mismatch to brain biology.” (Medina)

Also a must read for parents of babies and children of all ages is John’s latest book, Brain Rules for Baby.