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“Make teachers aware of the basic principles of science”


 by Claudia Civinini

The Gazette spoke to a number of experts about how time could be better spent on teacher training courses instead of learning about discredited educational theories such as learning styles.

Professor Paul Kirschner said that teachers should be better trained in ‘human cognitive architecture’ – how the brain learns and processes information. ‘This would be much more useful than worthless and actually harmful tricks such as learning styles.’

Teachers could also dedicate more time to special education needs training, said Dr Nathalia Gjersoe from the University of Bath. She suggested that teachers needed to be trained in recognising and supporting children with early language disorders that can lead to behavioural problems and under-achievement. She added that critical thinking should be part of teacher training, as ‘being able to parse evidence from expert opinion is not straightforward and needs to be taught’.

Professor Bruce Hood from the University of Bristol added that teachers needed to be trained in critical analysis and be ‘made aware of the basic principles of science: replication and validity’.

Dr Michelle Ellefson, lecturer in psychology at the University of Cambridge, said that learning styles should be replaced by ‘more effective practices’.

Carol Lethaby and Patricia Harries have suggested training teachers in effectively using their students’ prior knowledge to support learning. ‘Why not focus on evidence-based ways that we know are more helpful to learners?’ they asked in their presentation on neuromyths at Iatefl.