Whole Brain or Power Teaching - for real?


Our parish has decided to implement “Power Teaching” techniques for this year’s RE classes. There seems to be nothing but great things to say about this technique. Whenever I see something that seems to be “better than sliced bread” I get suspicious.

They are proposing this new for this year for middle school. Seems like a really interesting proposal, but for something like middle school, a bit childish.

I did a quick internet search and after three pages of hits ALL pointing to the author and significant salesman of the technique, I’m a bit curious if this falls into the “too good to be true” bucket.

Also, the “power teaching” website “moved” to wholebrainteaching.com… but I get an error when I try to access it.

Anyone have experience with “Power Teaching”?


I never heard of the technique but I would be a lot more concerned about the content of the teaching than the method, and about who is doing the teaching. If you have questions or concerns about RE in your parish my advice is always the same: get involved.


We had an inservice training on it, and it works, but I would think a little would go a long way. The whole thing, bored the snot out of me, and just annoyed me, it’s very perky. It would work well for simple concepts, and rote learnign type ideas, but there is little deeper thought involved. So, for a whole program I say no way, but as a technique to use when you want a set of facts memorized/practiced it gets the job done. I personally can’t handle teaching like I’ve had 20 cups of coffee for more than 5-10 minutes so I use it sparingly. It’s basically direct instruction on speed. I prefer direct instruction because it can sound much more natural, power teaching is like being at a sales convention/motivational workshop.


Well, we ARE involved. DW has taught RE for 13 years, so far. She has been very creative in teaching and now, in her opinion, teaching is reduced to script. I’m all for order in the classroom, but this Pavlovian stimulus/response method seems a bit off.

It keeps score, too. Ensuring a winner and a looser. It’s teacher vs. students.

If you look at the RE book content, it’s, well, a bit boorish. So guess what? The kids loose interest and act like kids. Seems this “method” is to address the discipline issue instead of the boring content. It’s like someone decided that the adult level message/lecture is fine, so it must be the kids that have the problem. :rolleyes:

“The beatings will continue until morale improves.”


Thanks. This was helpful. I can understand what you are saying about a methodology to achieve a goal of rote memorization.

I’m a big fan of kids teaching kids… but to do that, they need to properly understand the concept from the beginning. We do this in Boy Scouts… It’s often embarrassing when the “teacher” messes up and things go wrong. It becomes a learning experience. Like once the cook forgot to instruct the kids to drain the spaghetti before adding the meat sauce… What was taught was obviously wrong in short order. Now if neither knows that spaghetti is not supposed to be soup, how do they know they got it wrong? Oh, yeah. that’s what the test is for.


if we had a link that describes this method we could be of more help but in general a dictatorial approach to how every teacher must conduct their class does not sound very promising. Congratulations for doing this ministry, my advice is to teach the way that works best with the learners you have at this time, and teach the content they are supposed to master this year, according to your approved text or diocesan guidelines. The book is a jumping off point for the catechist, not the whole deal, do what works for your learners.


This appears to be based on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences.

It is similar to Accelerated Learning. Although this is taking it to another level. Accelerated Learning is based on colors, sounds, motion, etc, but not so “structured” as this.

They have obviously learned some kind of uniform techique with the “gestures” and the “teach” and the responses, etc.

The principle itself is pretty sound, reading about Gardner can give you background. But, the application here is sort of “children of the corn” scary!

And, who exactly is going to teach volunteer religious education teachers this method? Is this something your diocese is employing?


Just take the wheat and throw away the chaff. If your DW has been teaching for 13 years, I’m sure she has some techniques that work. A good teacher can usually pick up one or two pointers out of almost any new teaching “technique”. I doubt anyone from the DRE’s office is going to be patrolling every class, so DW should use what she finds helpful and continue on her way for the rest.

As PuzzleAnnie says, the more important part is to ensure she covers the material required for that year of learning.


I’m not sure of the “official site” anymore but I found this:

I’m happy to provide this for you to understand… but the purpose of my thread is to find out peoples real experience with the method. Like I said in my first post… there is absolutely nothing but accolades for this method. “if it sounds too good to be true…”


I don’t know how wide spread it is. And, I haven’t seen that movie/read that book. I’ll have to go investigate…


Team teaching… consistent interface.


Here is a Youtube video of how this is supposed to work.

That would drive me totally crazy! It seems almost gimmicky. I agree that repetition is good, but it seems like you would have to have a very specific personality to make this work.

I also agree with some of the questions others brought up, who is going to train everyone to do this? It doesn’t seem like the kind of thing you can teach in a quick 30 minute training.


I’ve watched several of Chris Biffle’s You Tube movies on “Power Teaching.” Now called “Whole Brain.”

Seems that there are two distinct elements here:

(1) Power Teaching as a classroom management technique. This seems, to me, to be a mixture of some multiple intelligences theory (getting the body invovled, all the senses, etc) and a rehash of assertive discipline (points on the board, rewards/consequences, rules, etc). I’m sure it’s the newest “fad” in classroom management theory. Doesn’t seem to be anything bad about it.

(2) Power Teaching/Whole Brain as an instructional strategy. I haven’t seen a whole lot on this yet, just watched two segments one was math and one was English. They both used some elements of the multiple intelligences-- the whole body, sensory aspects of the “ok, teach…” period where the kids are using gestures and repetition-- this also goes into mnemonics and pegging for memorization. Again, nothing wrong with that. But, if this is ALL you do then it’s not really good instruction. The instructional strategy should fit what you are trying to teach, not the other way around. This is a good strategy for some things, but it should not be the **only **thing in the classroom.


There, apparently, was a 6 hour training session. They have it on-line. There was an email SNAFU and DW missed the training. We’re :hypno::ehh::hmmm:so I was just looking for others that may have experience with this. It does not seem to be wide spread for RE based on responses to this thread so far. I largely agree with most who have posted… DW loves to teach and reach kids. We’re struggling with whether the technique inhibits that or not. We’re in “We’ll see” right now.


It’s not widespread in education, period. Came out of California, it seems.

I can’t imagine it being used very much in religious ed because most in RE are volunteers and there seems to be extensive training needed for these techniques.


That is a huge time commitment to ask of a volunteer! Wow, the DRE or whoever’s idea this was may find the ranks of CCD teachers pretty thin this year! :stuck_out_tongue:


I use it sparingly as well.

I can’t imagine being trained on it though. Youtube was fine for me! :smiley:

it’s a great tool to use. But it’s just that.

a TOOL in our bag of tricks. Anyway, that’s my honest opinion. :thumbsup:


Shoot me now!!

Yes, as someone else said, reminds me of the Tupperware conventions I used to attend. The first time I thought “They’re all nuts!!!”

But to be expected to use this all the time??? I don’t think so.
Of course you could always do what my son’s grade 1 teacher used to do: her school used whole-language and frowned on phonetics so if there was someone from the board or supervisor in the classroom it was whole language all the way but when she was alone she used phonetics to teach the kids to read. Hers did better than the other grade ones who only got whole language.

Oh my, his “cla-asss” reminds me of Cheech & Chong’s Sister Mary Elephant: “Cla-asss, cla-asss, cla-asss, SHUT UP! Thank you.”


Whole language? Does that mean using long sentences? I fail.

"Young man… give me that knife!
“Thank you.”


Whole language, where instead of learning the alphabet and sound blending kids look at a book and deduce the story from the pictures. Then instead of building words then sentences, they work in reverse. It works for some kids but I found it a failure for mine.

I recall helping out in the classroom in February of my older son’s year in grade 1. At that point the kids didn’t all know the alphabet. The teacher asked me to listen to their reading and when I commented that the 3 I’d listened to had done poorly she was surprised because those were her best readers. When I asked what she had as criteria she replied “If they look at the picture and can tell you the story…” Oh-K fine. Not exactly what I was doing with DS at home at that stage, no wonder he looked at me funny when I wanted him to do sound blending. He could read in his second language (English) before he could in his mother tongue (French) because he had learned phonics from Sesame Street.

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