Myth busting educational practices for better teaching and learning

There is no single way of doing something, especially for learning’s sake.  As teachers dwell into the intensive practice of planning, certain conditions tend to be overlooked.

Likewise, some educational practices may seem acceptable for some but not for the rest.  They may be effective, but still quite questionable. Through time, these practices became ingrained in the system that they end up becoming mythical in nature.

Here are some of educational practices and principles teachers and school experts may find mythical:

Rote memorization is an ineffective way of learning.

Bloom’s taxonomy dictates that acquiring knowledge through remembering is the lowest form of learning.  From his classification, the most effective way to learn is to create and to synthesize ideas.  Hence, memorization seems to be ineffective in developing high order thinking skills.

However, in acquiring a new language, rote memorization can be effective.  Definitely, we can not discard the fact that learning through memorization can be helpful.

In a study on language acquisition by Wang et al. (1992), they found out that rote memorization can help students retain information for a longer period of time.

Again, memorization as a learning practice depends on the student’s ability and purpose.  There are certain tasks that require routine and jargons, which require memorization.

On the other hand, there are also tasks that require high-level order thinking skills.

Critical thinking skills are transferrable.

Is it possible to teach students how to be critical thinkers? Indeed, teachers could claim using several practices to train students to think critically.

They also believe that the subjects and topics lead to critical thinking development.  For example, teaching computer programming and reading comprehension may claim to develop high order thinking.

However, current research on developing critical thinking skills is still skeptic about this idea.  Critical thinking skills do not transfer according to studies by Hirsch (1996) and Mayer & Wittrock (1996).   In their studies, schools that taught critical thinking skills or used academic programs could not really produce critical students.

For example, students could not really apply mathematical concepts even when they go to the grocery or elsewhere.  What students applied were the things they could remember and feel would work instinctively.

Assertive discipline strategies are archaic educational practices that have no place in 21st-century schools.

Proponents of student-centered approaches would claim that assertive discipline damages children in the long run.  In addition, they would go as far as likening this to medieval educational practices.  For them, what schools should cultivate is an idea of students who could self-manage.  Self-management comes from self-worth and not strict adherence to rules and policies.

On the other hand, teachers and school leaders know for themselves that an assertive discipline is an effective tool.  Research may still be divided on this matter, and other teachers may still be in denial. However, responsible and mature teachers would know that assertive discipline is a must.

In a study among schools in Oregon in 1989, 78-90% of the teachers admitted that there was a positive change in student behavior after implementing strategies in assertive discipline.

Needless to say, assertive discipline does not refer to physical or verbal abuse.  It is all about helping students to be more responsible through the policies in place.  Moreover, it is also by helping students make proper choices and accept consequences of their actions.

Well, there are still loads of debatable educational practices out there.  Next time, we’ll talk about the value of tests and homework.

Reference

Hoy, Anita Woolfolk., and Wayne K. Hoy. Instructional Leadership: A Research-based Guide to Learning in Schools. Boston: Pearson, 2009. Print. pp. 1-20.

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