Book Review

Enriching the Brain: How to Maximize Every Learner’s Potential

by Eric Jensen, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, Calif., 2006, 330 pp. with index, $24.95 softcover

Knowledge about the brain and its effects on student learning ranks right up there with data gathering and testing as today’s must-know mantras for elementary and secondary school administrators.

Enriching the Brain: How to Maximize Every Learner’s Potential is about “changing the brain for the better,” according to author Eric Jensen, a longtime member of the Society for Neuroscience and the New York Academy of Sciences and the head of Jensen Learning, a staff training program.

Jensen is an advocate for enriching all students based on the brain’s remarkable ability for positive change. He seeks educational policies requiring an individual education plan for each student, leading to the elimination of grade levels. “Customized education for every single student may well seem crazy,” Jensen concedes.

He also supports mastery learning wherein a student who masters a skill or subject moves on to the next level of learning. In this process slow learners are not kept back and gifted students would perform to their own higher capacities.

Jensen advocates customizing schools for each student. He recognizes there are financial, political and philosophical issues must be resolved, including that of No Child Left Behind, but he points out many schools and school leaders already provide enrichment.

Through his work, Jensen presents a necessary challenge to those seeking a way to make practical use of the latest in brain research. He believes enrichment is not just for a “select few, but for all of us.”

Reviewed by William J. Leary, professor of education, Lynn University, Boca Raton, Fla.