Myths about education

In the book “Learn Better “ researcher and journalist Ulrich Boser explores ways to lead us to learn how to learn.

Learning to learn is a necessity because there are many beliefs that circulate in popular culture and in the habits of parents and educators about how we learn, but often these beliefs are completely wrong. In a survey of 3,000 Americans, Boser found that people believe in many misconceptions about learning. Let’s look at some of these ideas.

  1. Intelligence is innate, which practically determines our ability to learn.
  2. Underlining, detecting keywords or reading and re-reading text several times is key to understanding the text.
  3. Intelligence is something fixed.
  4. Summarizing and checking the main points of a subject before the test is critical to solving the test well.
  5. There are different learning styles and each one has to discover their style (visual, auditory, …)
  6. One should study continuously.
  7. There are people who learn better with the right hemisphere and others with the left hemisphere.

In fact, recent research shows that our brain is willing to learn permanently because brain plasticity is an undeniable fact (Gazzaniga, Norman Doidge, Bach-y-Rita, …). On the other hand, the mental attitude is as important as the intelligence. The valorization of effort and personal involvement or attitudes of character, such as persistence and curiosity, are fundamental in learning.
With regard to text comprehension, the better ways are being able to explain ideas to yourself or to someone else, rather than underlining or re-read. Many studies show that one of the best ways to understand a subject is to teach it. Likewise, when we have to study for a test, it is best to take quizzes before taking the test.

Belief in learning styles is a belief that rests more on habit than on inquiry.
This is a myth insofar as research does not confirm that such styles actually exist. Investigations conducted in neuroscience often lead to somewhat superficial and skewed disclosure of study results. One of the most famous myths that confirms this idea is that we only use 10% of our brain. Another was the extrapolation made from the functional differences between cerebral hemispheres from the studies of Michael Gazzaniga on slipt-brain(divided brain after performing a callosotomy, that is, the cut of the corpus callosum that connects the two cerebral hemispheres). Because there are differences in the processing of the cerebral hemispheres, it can not be strictly deduced that for a person to show mastery in performing artistic tasks, it implies that he is someone with a more developed right hemisphere than the left hemisphere. The brain, although it has specialized functional areas, functions as a whole, in a process of permanent interactivity between various areas.
There are many other myths that we could add to the above list.

  1. Students know less and less
  2. Increasing homework entails more learning
  3. The school environment is not very important
  4. Through education one can solve all social problems
  5. Student success depends only on the type of teacher
  6. Class size is not relevant
  7. If we reproduce successful formulas from other countries like Finland, we also achieve the same results
  8. Competition is the best way to improve learning outcomes
  9. Without standardized tests and tests, students do not learn how to be

I am sure the reader will be able to add other myths to this list.


8 Myths That Undermine Educational Effectiveness | Edutopia. (2017, July 14).

Learning Myths And Realities From Brain Science: NPR Ed: NPR. (2017, July 14).

Reynolds, M. (1997, June 1). Learning Styles: A Critique. Management Learning.

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