Myths and ineffective methods
One way to apply the evidence to our teaching is to avoid doing what’s proven to not work, so on this page you’ll find a summary of what not to do!
Using research to inform our teaching methods is invaluable, but we can also learn a lot from what research tells us about the least effective methods and policies. On this page you’ll find lists and explanations of what not to do – myths about the brain, the least effective methods and policies, and methods which are expensive but ineffective.
Myths about the brain
The “fixed intelligence” myth
The “fixed learning difficulties” myth
The “critical periods for learning” myth
The “enriched environments for young children” myth
The “10% of the brain” myth
The “left brain/ right brain” myth
The “gender differences” myth
The “learning styles/ preferences” myth
The “neuro-linguistic programming” myth
The “brain hydration” myth
The “brain foods” myth
Intelligence is fixed by our genes.
A person who has learning difficulties has them for life and can’t change them.
There are specific windows of time for learning. If you miss the window, the child can’t learn after that.
Young children need especially stimulating activities, early tuition, and so on.
Most of the brain is unused – we only use 10% of it.
People are dominant on one side or the other.
Girls and boys need to be taught differently.
Everyone has a preferred way to learn. A popular model is of visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic learning styles.
Neuro-linguistic programming is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy.
Students need to have water available at all times, otherwise their brains won’t function properly.
There are certain foods that boost brain function.
Ineffective methods and policies
The ineffective “music by Mozart” method
The ineffective “brain gym” method
The ineffective “teacher subject knowledge” method
The ineffective “longer Initial Teacher Training” method
The ineffective “ability grouping” method
The ineffective “repeating a year” method
The ineffective “increased testing and marking” method
The ineffective “challenging homework” method
The ineffective “lesson lengths” method
The ineffective “later morning start” method
The ineffective “management reorganisation” method
The ineffective “school finances” method
The ineffective “outcomes are linked to poverty” method
The ineffective “charter schools” method
The ineffective “aspiration interventions” method
The ineffective “financial incentives” method
Certain types of music aid learning.
Brain gym involves exercises which stimulate the brain or join the two halves of the brain together.
Experts in their subject (academic or industry experience) make better teachers.
Longer training makes better teachers.
Mixed ability groups do worse than similar ability groups.
A student who fails should repeat a year.
The more marking a teachers does, the better.
Homework is effective if it’s difficult.
Shorter or longer lessons are more effective.
During adolescence, students need to start the day later in the morning.
Changing job titles, job descriptions, and structure regularly to improve teaching and learning.
The more money, the better the results.
Children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds do less well.
Freedom from Local Authority control improves learning.
Increasing aspirations helps students to learn more.
Giving students a financial incentive based on exam results helps them to achieve higher grades.
Expensive but ineffective methods and policies
The expensive yet ineffective “reduced class sizes” method
The expensive yet ineffective “new buildings” method
The expensive yet ineffective “non-specialist IT” method
The expensive yet ineffective “untrained teaching assistants” method
The expensive yet ineffective “staff development with no follow-up” method
Smaller classes do better.
Students learn more when they are taught in new buildings.
New computers and interactive whiteboards improve learning.
Any training session for teachers improves student learning. Teachers don’t need to practise.