Myths in Education

Every profession has its megaliths – giant great boulders that are considered immovable. These are beliefs or assumptions that have been accepted as truisms for so long that virtually all have ceased to question, challenge or at least ask for the evidence.

The education profession is no exception and one such belief is the one about ‘preferred learning styles’. There have been so many articles and books based upon this belief, sharing all sorts of ideas about how educators can ensure that they tailor the learning experience according to the preferred learning styles of the learners.

Here is an article that does question that belief, at least from the perspective that there is little or no scientific proof to substantiate it; – One of the Greatest Neoroscience Myths

What’s quite startling is the massive level of belief in the significance of learning styles – evidence that very few educators have really been challenging the myth, or have been aware of the lack of scientific basis for it. The myth simply gets passed on from one to the next.

Ironically, I suspect that the effects of this myth have not been all bad. If it caused more to teachers to question the way they taught, to reflect on the learners’ experiences of their lessons and classes, to apply more different types of skills and to have lessons with greater variety of activities, then it probably contributed to better learning opportunities for all pupils.

There have been many who have sought to suggest that this visual, kinaesthetic, auditory split in learning styles was at the root of the purpose of differentiation. However, for those who’ve particularly studied the work of Carol Ann Tomlinson on the subject know this was always a gross simplification.

As I highlighted in an article yesterday, maybe of far greater importance is exposing students, as they get older, to the evidence of how we learn, what works for all (regardless of sensory preferences) and coaching them to refine their learning skills. Students with greater mastery of learning skills will extract and retain better learning from their school and college experiences.

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