In the world of education, like all areas for all time there have been many rumors, and worse yet myths that have been purported. Numerous articles have been written on this topic one intriguing one was written from a site called edutopia by a teacher named Mark Phillips. The article is called “8 Myths that undermine educational effectiveness”. Though I could approach the subjects in this article, the bigger question is how can we as educators speak up effectively against educational myths that are being pushed in to our school district?
I will return to that question later, but one such myth that I have heard for numerous years and even been tested for in middle school is the learning style myth. I had always been skeptical and came to totally disagree with the idea that each person learns most effectively in a certain style, so their educational experience should be tailored to their learning style(I was an Auditory Learner). As many people have pointed out and are pointing out there is not an effective body of evidence to support the proposition that students have learning styles: kinesthetic, visual-spatial, or auditory that when tailored to allow them to best to thrive in the classroom and succeed in school. The most surprising myth I have heard recently is that Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence is not valid. As a psychology major I have not really heard much evidence that dismisses his arguments. The theory certainly seems that it could be stronger, but I would just argue that Gardner’s theory is not very useful for educational instruction.
Like any other type of discussion with conflicting viewpoints, teachers need to approach authority figures in their district with gentleness and respect when they disagree with a district’s policy. If a school district is pouring money in to a method supported by an educational myth teachers need to seek out effective means of communication with their administrators. The most important step to having a discussion that brings truth to a well touted fallacy is to listen to the leader that is tailoring class instruction to the myth and to hear their motives for doing so. Then, and only then, once a teacher has listened to the myth promoting leader should a teacher speak up and share their research supported and valid argument against the purported myth. This is a simple method for having an effective educational discussion about policy, and obviously not the only method. Please let me know your thoughts on confronting ineffective school policy by commenting below!