The just-so stories of pop psychology can make for interesting dinner debates and speculative discussions, but when these stories are treated as fact in educational settings, they can render teachers less effective. According to a new study, a large number of teachers believe popular myths about brain function, and these myths undermine their ability to effectively teach.
Teachers and Brain Myths
Researchers wanted to see how a cross-cultural sample of teachers responded to popular “neuromyths.” By surveying teachers in the United Kingdom, Greece, China, and Turkey, they found that more than a quarter of teachers thought students’ brains would shrink if they drank fewer than six glasses of water per day. Half of teachers believed that students use only 10% of their brains and that sugary snacks make students less attentive, even though both of these claims have been proven untrue.
Myths about “brain style” were also popular. Seventy percent of teachers incorrectly believed that students are either predominately left- or right-brained, with 91% of UK teachers accepting this myth. Though research has not shown that teaching according to the learning style a student says he or she prefers is more effective, more than 90% believed that learning style was relevant to teaching.
How Brain Myths Undermine Good Teaching
The study’s author, Paul Howard-Jones, says that these neuromyths are sometimes presented to teachers as evidence-based practices based on neuroscience. He argues that, in addition to the neuromyths studied, new neuromyths about learning difficulties, teen brain development, ADHD, and educational investment may be gaining steam.
These neuromyths are particularly harmful for good teachers, who may accept the myths and incorporate them into the classroom in an attempt to help students. Instead, teachers end up wasting time on discredited approaches, or even embracing damaging teaching philosophies. Howard-Jones argues that neuroscience and education need to communicate more openly so that teachers don’t accept oversimplified or discredited educational philosophies.
Myth-conceptions: How myths about the brain are hampering teaching. (2014, October 16). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141016123606.htm
© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.