Tip #715:  What Myths Are You Perpetuating?

“I have always found fact infinitely more interesting than myths and falsehoods.” John Brunner

I just read a fascinating article titled: 12 Educational Research Myths,  by John Dabell. He calls them “12 of the best ‘worst’ research myths and legends.”

There are six that jumped out at me, four of which I didn’t realize were myths:

  1. Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience was debunked quite a while ago. Unfortunately, some trainers still teach that people remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, 50% of what they see and hear, 70% of what they say and write, and 90% of what they do. [I knew this one]

According to Will Thalheimer (2015): “People do not necessarily remember more of what they hear than what they read. They do not necessarily remember more of what they see and hear than what they see. The numbers are nonsense and the order of potency is incorrect.”

  1. By reference, Mehrabian’s formula regarding verbal and nonverbal messages. Some trainers persist in explaining that the meaning of a message is communicated 7% by words, 38% by tone of voice, and 55% by body language. 

This is only true if: (1) a speaker is using only one word; (2) the tone of voice is inconsistent with the meaning of the word; and (3) the judgment being made is about the feelings of the speaker. In the real world, this is almost never applicable.

  1. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid has been proven untrue. Researchers found it made intuitive sense but was completely wrong because, according to Gerard Hodgkinson, “the actual structure of motivation doesn’t fit the theory.” The pyramid (something Maslow never used) indicated different needs, from bottom to top: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.  [A side note: even the pyramid misses two of the other needs Maslow added: “knowing and understanding,” and “aesthetics.”]

Maslow himself said that for some people, needs may appear in a different order, be absent altogether or occur at the same time. He said he was surprised that people “swallowed it whole” and that nobody tested it at the time, since he had no empirical evidence.

  1. There are all sorts of learning style models, and none of them are accurate. The concept is considered to be a “neuromyth,” a misconception about brain research and its application to education and learning. There is no evidence to support it. [I knew this one]

As a matter of fact, David Didau observes that what we are learning has an important effect on how information is best presented. “The myth is that our preferences for experiencing information presented in a particular mode, or style, leads to improved outcomes. It doesn’t.”

  1. We’ve all heard and probably taught that a right brainer is intuitive, spontaneous, nonverbal, visual and artistic- and that a left brainer is analytical, explicit, verbal, rational, active and goal-oriented. There is apparently no concrete basis in neuroscience for this left-right brain dichotomy.

Stephen M. Kosslyn and G. Wayne Miller have written that “far from having separate lives, the two halves work together. They are not isolated systems that compete or engage in some kind of cerebral tug-of-war.”

  1. I’ve always wondered why I only used 10% of my brain. Here is another neuromyth that has no neurological evidence to support it.

According to neurologist Barry Gordon, “Brain imaging research techniques such as PET scans (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) clearly show that the vast bulk of the brain does not lie unused. Although not all parts are used at once, over the course of a whole day, just about all of the brain is used.” 

Well, I learned something new. Did you?

If you’d like to read the rest of his article, go to https://www.teachertoolkit.co.uk/2017/12/26/20-research-myths/

May your learning be sweet.


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