Learning and Education myths are fake news. In this blog post I made an attempt to collect the collections of LEARNING AND EDUCATION MYTHS from various sources. (Apart from my top 4)
Scientific understanding of human brain and learning is constantly evolving. Although we’ve come a long way, a good number of learning myths have stood the test of time despite having no grounding in scientific research.
There are many unproven theories about learning that are taken as fact and perpetuated by self help industry. Needless to say, there are even many in academia and research do this very often.
Further, the corona lock-down has unleashed a storm-flow of content online which directly or indirectly endorses one or many of these unproven learning myths.
My list of the 4 most repeated Learning myths
Meta-compilation of learning myths with the links
My list of the 4 most repeated Learning myths
1. Learning styles(“VARK” Learning Styles: “Visual“ learners)
Learning Styles refer to the idea that students learn best when course content is pitched to match students’ self-reported media preferences. The most popular one among them divides students into three types: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners.(VARK Model scrutinized..The Atlantic )
Overwhelming consensus among scholars is that no scientific evidence backs this “matching” hypothesis of learning styles (Kirschner 2017, Pashler 2008, Simmonds 2014).(Yale POORVU Center)
According to Dr. Robert Bjork (UCLA) there is no evidence for learning style and in this short video he explains how the idea of individual learning styles not only lacks scientific merit, but how such a belief can be detrimental to learning.
Note: Meta-analysis questioned Carol Dweck’s idea of fixed or growth mindset
Further, teachers are routinely told that in order to be effective educators, they must identify & cater to individual students’ learning styles; it is also estimated that around 90% of students believe that they have a specific learning style but research suggests that learning styles don’t actually exist!
In the following TED Video, Dr. Tesia Marshik (Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) debunks this learning myth via Research findings, Explaining how/why the belief in learning styles is problematic, and examining the reasons why the belief persists despite the lack of evidence.
Note :The theory of multiple intelligences by Harvard Professor Howard Gardner was often misused to promote Learning Styles. Click this video LINK
2. Left-Right Brain
The left-brain right-brain myth comes from the idea that your dominant personality traits are related to which side of your brain has more control. Supposedly, left-brained people are more logical, while right-brained people are more creative.(Link Northropgrumman.com )
This popular idea has been around for many years but it simply isn’t true because every human-beings use both sides of the brain equally, and logic and creativity are not mutually exclusive.
Everything in the brain is interconnected.
One highly publicized paper “An Evaluation of the Left-Brain vs. Right-Brain Hypothesis” failed to find evidence that individuals tend to have stronger left- or right-sided brain networks.
Following are three popular media reports about the study.
- NPR: “The Truth About The Left Brain / Right Brain Relationship ” 06 Dec, 2013
- CBS News: “Left-brain, right-brain theory a myth, study says” 28 Dec, 2013
- BBC News: “What does a scientist think of “right brain/left brain” tests? – BBC News“
Free Research Article : The Dual-Brain Myth Michael C. Corballis
Watch this Ted Ed video Lesson by Elizabeth Waters, directed by Daniel Gray.
Watch this video: Following a two-year study, University of Utah Health Care researcher Jeff Anderson discusses theories of left brain-right brain dominance, his findings, and what implications they have for the common assertion that people are either “left-brained” or “right-brained.”
3. 10% of Your Brain Myth
In the following video SciShow host Hank Green debunks the myth that we only use 10 percent of your brain.
In this video Emory University neurologist Krish Sathian debunks the lingering yet popular myth that people use only 10 percent of their brains. This video also explores scenes from movie Lucy (2014) which promotes the 10% of the brain myth.
Following are some links for further exploration.
- Ten Percent and Counting – BrainConnection.com
- The Ten-Percent Myth from the Skeptical Inquirer
- Do People Use 10 Percent of Their Brains? – Scientific American
- Humans use 100 percent of their brains–despite the popular myth – Ask a Scientist
4. The learning pyramid myth
We all may have heard of the pyramid theory. The most popular among them goes like this:
- 10 percent of what they READ
- 20 percent of what they HEAR
- 30 percent of what they SEE
- 50 percent of what they SEE and HEAR
- 70 percent of what they SAY and WRITE
- 90 percent of what they DO
The learning pyramid or the cone of experience is a learning model and representation relating different degrees of retention induced from various type of learning. The representation generally shows percentages and discrete layers within a “pyramid of learning”
The cone is not scientific because of many reasons( Blog @ Trainerswarehouse) . The most prominent among them are probably historical.
In 1946, Edgar Dale proposed a hierarchy of learning methods for adults. In this version, we can see teaching methods in a pyramid, without any numbers.
In the later versions somebody added those percentages . The model could never be substantiated by research findings. Critics also reported inconsistencies between the pyramid of learning and actual state of the art in retention researches.
Further, It is attributed to “the National Training Laboratories”, who claims that it originated from them, but cannot supply the original research upon which it was based: “we no longer have – nor can we find – the original research that supports the numbers.” (cf Letrud, p3). In an era where we are increasingly trying to distinguish myth from fact (and do so by looking at the data and research that inform our opinions) this is a serious admission and one we cannot simply ignore. To make matters worse, the NTL acknowledges that there are different “versions” of the Learning Pyramid out there and that the values attributed to the different modalities differ between the versions, so again, this hardly leads to more confidence in the model itself – quite the opposite.(Source of the above paragraph:Dr Lieb Liebenberg )
So from a research perspective alone, it should be clear that we cannot accept the Learning Pyramid as a reliable model for evaluating different teaching and learning activities.
Thinkers also suggest that learning is not linear as presented in the pyramid model, and for example, adding “hear and see” over “read” cannot be relied upon.(as it add to learning by another 10 or 20% of learning. That is BS)
In this video(timed 14.36 to…) Pedro de Bruyckere talks about the learning pyramid misconceptions . Also check Pedro de Bruyckere’s Blog “TheEconomyOfMeaning”
Here is a tweet by Pedro linking to his blog-post further explaining why Learning Pyramid is wrong.
- Effortfuleducator.com: The Pyramid Of Myth
- Research Article: Excavating the origins of the learning pyramid myths.
- Daniel Willingham: Cone of learning or cone of shame?
- Research Article: Urban myths about learning and education.
Meta-compilation of learning myths with the links
- Opencolleges.edu.au: 10 common learning myths might holding back
- Re-reading and highlighting (My take with a caution)
- Students have different learning styles
- You are either right or left brained
- The 10,000 hour rule
- You should always stick with your first answer
- Intelligence is fixed at birth
- Praising intelligence will motivate students
- We only use 10 percent of our brain
- The learning pyramid
- There are shortcuts to better learning
- Researchschool.org.uk: 15 myths about memory and learning
We only use 10% of our brain.
We are more likely to remember something if we discover it for ourselves.
Men and women learn differently.
We learn better when teaching is tailored towards our preferred learning style.
Your brain is a muscle that can be trained.
We do not need to remember facts now we have the internet.
Performance is always a sign of learning.
Rereading notes and highlighting are effective revision strategies.
We are good judges of how much we will remember.
Forgetting is the enemy of memory.
Memorable lessons should always contain unique and unexpected experiences.
Stories are only for English lessons.
Learning is visible.
Cramming is an effective revision strategy.
We can always trust our memory.
- Teachertoolkit.co.uk: John Dabell 12 of the best ‘worst’ research myths and legends:
The Learning Pyramid
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
You Only Use 10% of Your Brain
Pupils Are Digital Natives
Boys Are Better At Maths Than Girls
Alfie Kohn (2006) in ‘The Homework Myth’
We Don’t Need To Teach Knowledge
- Red.msudenver.edu:Learning myths debunked
Listening to Mozart makes you smarter
The theory of multiple intelligences by Harvard Professor Howard Gardner (Watch Video to see how Gardner’s theory is misused)
Gender dictates aptitude at certain subjects
Raising self-esteem improves academic performance
- Fastcompany.com: Five popular myths about learning
- We have set learning styles
- Rereading material is a good way to learn
- Focus on one subject at a time
- Your first answer is often the right answer
- The number of hours you put into something translates to better understanding
- Learningcommons.ubc.ca: Myths about learning
Talent is everything!
I only need one good method for studying.
If it’s easy, I must be learning.
If I memorize enough to pass the test, I’ve learned it!
Planning is a waste of time.
Failure should be avoided at all costs.
- Junkee.com: Four study myths debunked by neuroscientists
You shouldn’t drink while you study
You should have a designated place for studying
Classical music does not help concentration
- Medium.com/@mgjuelle: Five Popular Learning Myths, Debunked
- Left-Brain/Right-Brain Phenotypes
- “VARK” Learning Styles: “Visual“ learners will love this!
- Innate Talent
- The Beautiful Classroom
- The Highlighting Technique
- Wbtsystems.com: Debunking learning myths; 12 facts adult learning
The learning style myth: please make it stop!
There are no “right-brain” or “left-brain” learners.
Young ‘digital natives’ can’t multi-task.
Older adults have a great capacity for learning as they age.
People do not remember what they hear, read, and see at predictable rates.
People don’t forget at predictable rates.
Cramming before an exam doesn’t work.
Highlighting and rereading information won’t get you far.
Keyword mnemonics are soon forgotten.
10,000 hours won’t necessarily make you an expert.
Micro doesn’t mean better.
Eliminate the “our learners don’t like…” mindset.
- Utc.edu: Learning Myths
- Everyone starts with the same base of knowledge about a particular subject.
- Everyone learns at the same pace.
- Everyone learns best by listening.
- Everyone will bridge naturally from theory to application.
- Everyone should learn on his or her own rather than in collaboration.
- Learning is the transfer of knowledge from a teacher to a passive learner.
- John Hattie, Professor of Education and Director at the Melbourne Educational Research
Teaching at private schools is better than teaching at public schools
How much you spend on your child’s education equates to how well they will do at school.
Homework is a necessary evil
Reducing class size leads to better outcomes for students
We should be happy if our children are ‘doing their best’
Teachers should be experts on their subject and do most of the talking in class
Wearing a school uniform has a positive impact on students’ result.
Academic achievement of secondary school students is better at single sex schools
Extra-curricular activities distract and diminish school performance.
TV has a negative effect on a child’s learning progress
A child’s birth date can have a negative impact on learning
Children Learn Best When They Discover Things On Their Own
Children Learn More When They Have Control Over Their Learning
Special Diets Help Behaviour
Teachers need to soften criticism with praise
Teachers need deep content knowledge to be effective
Repeating struggling or immature students accelerates their learning
Myth: Ability grouping is effective
- Christenseninstitute.org & Blendedlearning.org: 5 MYTHS ABOUT BLENDED LEARNING TO BUST
Blended learning is an exclusive approach.
I’m doing personalized learning — not blended learning.
Blended learning looks like kids in headphones in front of screens all day.
If I’m using technology in my school, I’m doing blended learning and disrupting the old system!
Flex is the pinnacle of blended.
- Gettingsmart.com : 6 Common Misconceptions About Blended Learning
Students work in isolation.
Students complete online content by working primarily asynchronously at school and at home.
Blended, hybrid and online learning are less work than traditional, face-to-face instruction
Blended learning is a linear process
Online learning is only for gifted students or credit recovery
All blended learning classrooms are student centered
- Educause.edu Myths and Facts About Flipped Learning
Flipped learning is predicated on recording videos.
Flipped learning replaces face-to-face teaching.
Flipped learning has no evidence to back up its effectiveness
Flipped learning is a fad.
People have been doing flipped learning for centuries.
Students and professors prefer lecture over flipped learning.