What the Experts Say

“We spend billions of dollars in the United States on curriculum - and there is no doubt good curriculum matters, yet children are not being exposed enough to the precursor skills that set them up to learn well, effectively and thoroughly,” said Lynne Kenney, Harvard-trained psychologist and international educator.

Ensuring that students’ brains are in a position to retain information, remember what they have been taught and put that knowledge into action is central to GAIN and increasing outcomes for students.

“Sometimes we think that if kids aren’t doing well in math and reading that we have to give them more math, more reading,” explains Dr. Bruce Wexler, professor emeritus of and senior research scientist in psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. “But we say to them ‘You can’t pour water into a jar when the lid is closed.’ You have to give them the cognitive skills to open the lid so the content goes in.”

One of the ways we prepare students’ brains to learn is ensuring students have the cognitive skills, also known as executive functioning skills, necessary for optimal learning such as attention, self control and memory.

According to Dr. Benjamin Bunney, professor emeritus of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, executive functioning skills are the primary skills necessary to prepare children for learning. “It turns out that it isn’t actually IQ that tells you if a child is going to be successful, it is the way they have mastered executive functioning skills in terms of life success.”

Taking into account the skills that students have to have for optimal learning to take place, and then operationalizing that into a system that can be implemented into every classroom is the very essence of GAIN.