More than five decades ago, a couple of clinicians an auditory specialist and a vision-development specialist discovered that each of them was frustrated by what they couldn’t do for their clients. Both offered in-depth cognitive assessments that told parents exactly why their children were struggling in school and with other behavioral problems. But when the parents said, “OK, now what do we do about it?” these clinicians didn’t have a lot to suggest. They began to share their ideas and approaches, convinced although they couldn’t yet demonstrate it that a multidisciplinary approach was essential. Along the way, other clinicians joined them in their search speech pathologists, neurologists, psychologists and others. Over about 40 years of collaborative trial and error and refinement, these clinicians developed a set of one-on-one, mostly paper-and-pencil exercises that they used in their offices to help children with learning issues.
While there was no formal research at the time, results were achieved for tens of thousands of children. One day, a marketing expert and entrepreneur named Roger Stark got to a point in his career where he wanted to be involved in something that made transformative differences in people’s lives for meaningful, lasting good. He had started to think about his legacy. When he was introduced to the cognitive training that was taking place in clinical offices around the country, he was impressed. But he saw that something was missing and that something was a way to truly scale the program to reach many more people with learning struggles.
Stark had a unique background that suggested a path no one had yet considered. He had played an active role in the early stages of the video-game industry, launching Steven Spielberg’s first games before there was Dreamworks, as well as early titles for EA Sports, Tiger Interactive (now part of Hasbro) and Namco Cybertainment. Stark’s insight was that it might be possible to deliver the cognitive training that was working well when delivered by clinicians on a computer in a video-game format. If it could be done and it was a big if, at the time it would enable the program to help far more people.
That was the genesis of BrainWare SAFARI, which is today the most researched, comprehensive cognitive training tool delivered online in the world.
At the start, BrainWare was a single program BrainWare SAFARI. Today it is a full-blown concept and platform for improving learning and teaching based on a deep (and continually deepening) understanding of how the brain works and learns. There was no school for educators who wanted to understand neuroscience when we started, but we have learned from and collaborated with other pioneers. It has been gratifying to see much of what we originally believed be supported by a mounting body of evidence. We have tested our programs and ideas in authentic clinical, educational and workplace settings. We listen and learn from our clients, including parents, clinicians, educators and workplace organizations.
Everything we develop or partner to bring to our customers must meet these criteria:
Today, BrainWare SAFARI is one of our Cognitive Literacy Solutions, solutions that build the foundational cognitive infrastructure for learning that transfers to greater success in school, work and life, and to support the more rapid and effective acquisition of literacy skills.
We envision a world where every child and every adult has the ability to succeed academically and in life because they have developed the cognitive capacity to do so. Many of the jobs of the future have not even been imagined yet. It is not possible for our education system to train future workers for specific jobs because we simply don’t know what those jobs will be.
In order to be successful in the jobs of the future, our children and their children after them will need to be good thinkers and problem-solvers, to have cognitive flexibility and strong powers of observation and analysis.
They will need to be effective learners because they will have to learn their jobs to do them. We expect to play a significant role in this process by developing, sourcing, offering and supporting the best programs that address brain fitness, cognitive skill development, and the practical application of neuroscience to the learning and teaching process.
1. We believe that a solid foundation needs to be in place for students and adults to learn effectively and efficiently, with strong foundational cognitive skills and executive functions.
2. We believe that each individual’s learning capacity can be developed to a far greater degree than most think possible. Individuals who learn differently deserve more than accommodations and workarounds. They deserve the opportunity to build their cognitive capacity.
3. We believe that education and economics are two sides of the same coin. Improving the educational performance of students is vital to realizing their economic potential. Too many children and adults struggle to achieve their goals because they do not have the developed cognitive capacity to do so. This is especially true for students who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, who are being educated in a language other than their native language, and students who have learning disabilities.
4. We believe that the educational performance gaps for these students can be closed by narrowing the cognitive development gaps that make learning a struggle and hold many back from achieving their potential.
5. We believe that building the best brain-training software and evidence-based, brain-compatible solutions requires the contributions of multiple disciplines. We work diligently on integrating the fields of neuroscience, education, the practice of clinical therapeutic disciplines, and workforce development. We then combine this expertise with the best practices of technology and gamification to offer powerful, flexible, engaging and effective tools to improve learning.
6. We believe that the human mind can be developed to a greater degree than heretofore imagined by most and that cognitive development can provide the basis for academic and life success for every individual.
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