Education, like all fields, is subject to profoundly entrenched thought processes and ideas. Some viewpoints are so intimately woven into the fabric of educational system as a whole that it can be challenging to unlearn these aspects and create a new line of thought. Myths, therefore, are subject to constant scrutiny and change. And education myths more so owing to the sheer responsibility that comes with the task of being an educator and providing a proper and complete learning experience for the learners under an educator’s care.
A common myth that frequently comes across is that the capability of an educator is directly linked to their degrees and academic credentials, which is categorically untrue. Educational ‘experts’ are also guilty of peddling myths to harry and hoodwink the innocent. Either no one has told them what they are saying is defective, they choose to ignore it, or they have some vested interest. You may have seven PhDs, but that’s no guarantee that you will be a good teacher to a classroom of students.
An educator is more than their degree: they are the total of their ability to teach what they are good at to the people that need to be educated while fostering a productive and wholesome educational environment. Value-added education is a burgeoning line of thought where teachers are evaluated based on the contributions they can make to the knowledge of their students. It also happens to be a system that takes into account the dramatic differences in educational experiences, performances and other qualities in educators and how those can effect changes in the learning process (Glazerman et al., 2010). If an educator cannot convey their thoughts in a way that can be understood merely or imbibed, then no amount of grand theory or degrees will ever count for much in their contribution to the learning process. Every student will not benefit the same way from one standard learning experience, and some might not even benefit at all. Each student’s involvement in the process of learning is a unique one, and to identify, and then engage in that process is an educator’s priority. An educator must, therefore, be keenly aware of the needs of their class, and be willing to tailor their teaching to fit the needs and learning processes of the students under their care.
The Learning Pyramid bogus favourite lingers in countless presentations and is plastered on many a classroom wall, but the learning pyramid is a tetrahedron built on sand and mystery.
It purports that we remember:
10 percent of what we read 20 percent of what we hear 30 percent of what we see 50 percent of what we see and hear 70 percent of what we say and write 90 percent of what we do.
A possible inspiration for the learning pyramid is Edgar Dale’s cone of experience, which caught on without any hard data to back up the claims.
Different approaches can influence the efficiency in learning, but Dale himself saw the visual aid as a visual metaphor without statistical data. Convincing as these rounded-off generalisations might seem, we need to give them a wide berth.
Another common myth is the efficacy of rote learning and mugging up facts. From an early age, our education systems focus far too much on retaining information, rather than imparting essential knowledge or the ability to apply gathered information. H.E. Gorst stated that “as long as education is synonymous with cramming on an organised plan, it will continue to produce mediocrity” (Gorst, 1901) which is something that should be taken quite seriously at face value. This misguided perception that an individual’s marks are tied directly to their ability to mug up, rather than the ability to think for themselves is one of the most dangerous myths that modern education is guilty of perpetuating. Yes, there is, of course, a need to retain information in any wholesome learning experience, but for it to be the end all and be all of that learning experience is an incredibly reductive thought process. Learning and teaching exercises that foster the ability to think beyond just rote memorisation is paramount and should be the need of the hour.
Misconceptions and myths will always plague a field as extensive and ever-evolving as education since it is an age-old tradition and subject to so many shifting viewpoints and facets over the centuries. People want to cling to old ideas because they draw comfort from the familiar, but there must be an evolution of those ideas if education is ever to serve its full purpose and achieve its maximum potential to better the lives of those that receive it.
References • Gorst, H.E. The Curse of Education. London: Grant Richards, 1901. • Glazerman, Steven; Loeb Sussana; Goldhaber, Daniel; Steiger, Douglas; Raudenbush, Steven & Whitehurst, Grover. Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added. Brown Centre on Educational Policy. Brookings. 2010
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