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Learning myths – How can teachers avoid them?

Adam Riches explains five learning myths and alternatives you can use instead...

  • Learning myths – How can teachers avoid them?

1 | ‘Discovery learning rules’

The concept of students being the masters of their own destiny has been romantically associated with effective learning for years, but was always a theory, not a proven approach.

Research suggests that teacher direction is, in fact, three times more effective than student discovery.

That’s a lot of wasted curriculum time.

2 | ‘Everyone learns differently’

Thankfully, Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic (VAK) learning styles are now a thing of the past. Learners have preferences, but cognitively, effective teaching is effective teaching.

Leave the kinaesthetic tasks at the door – they’re not engaging the boys. And don’t get me started on ‘student-centred learning’...

3 | ‘Silence means engagement’

The assumption that a quiet class is an engaged class is a fallacy. Students are master manipulators at times, and you must ensure that their silence isn’t a mask for complacency. Check frequently for understanding and plan in talk.

4 | ‘Don’t smile before Christmas’

A really damaging myth for relationships with students, I was perturbed when meeting a whole cohort of trainees last year who had been taught this. You need to build relationships with students, and you won’t do that by acting like you hate them for a set period of time.

5 | ‘Good subject knowledge makes good teachers’

Or alternatively, ‘All the gear and no idea’. Knowing your subject well is crucial for excellent lessons, but it’s not the only required ingredient.

Without an understanding of pedagogy, your delivery of said knowledge will likely be ineffective.

Classroom audiences can be relenting, and if you can’t transfer your knowledge to them, you’ll be a sitting duck.


Adam Riches is a senior leader for teaching and learning; follow him at @teachmrriches.

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