Barbara Arrowsmith - The Woman Who Changed Her Brain

Since 1978, The Arrowsmith Program has worked to help students strengthen the weak cognitive capacities underlying a range of learning difficulties.

A message from Barbara Arrowsmith

I am a gardener.  This means spending hours – days – years – preparing the soil, seeding, watering, waiting, failing, tugging weeds, envisioning, planning, pruning, adapting. And then – blooming, reaping, growing, learning, sharing. Gardening is a constant effort: it requires patience and hard work. The payoffs are extraordinary though, a bounty that can be enjoyed and shared by others. I believe my garden has inspired others to create their own, to plant their own possibilities.

 Forty years ago, I planted the first seed of Arrowsmith School. There were multiple seeds leading to this planting: me, as the first person to transform; the seed of the Symbol Relations exercise, the first exercise created; and that first seed of Luria and Rosenzweig’s work, inspiring me to persist, to grow. 

Forty years of children, adults, and families sowing and reaping the benefits of their efforts. Forty years of schools and learning organizations recognizing a cognitive program can be the fertilizer for their academic curriculum. Forty years of students growing their capacity through cognitive exercises, becoming better learners and happier learners. After 40 years, entire systems – scientific, educational, mental health– are starting to see the profound potential of neuroplasticity.

 Forty years of planting this cognitive program has been my life’s work, bringing me deep joy.  The Arrowsmith community has grown from a single seed to a magnificent bounty.  Across 40 years, I have been joined by other ‘gardeners’ – young and old – ready to roll their sleeves up and plant seeds of change. May we all enjoy the fruits of our labour, and always look for new ways to nurture, give light, and grow.


Barbara Arrowsmith-Young – Founder of the Arrowsmith Program

October 2020

Barbara Arrowsmith Oakleigh Grammar