Every discipline, field, institution or culture has commonly held beliefs that are actually untrue. Education is not impervious to myths, and many are so entrenched into the system that they become widely accepted as facts. Here are 5 myths in education that you may have heard and the evidence to suggest otherwise.
1. Homework Improves Grades
Perhaps the most cited falsehood in education, there is actually no evidence to suggest that this is true, yet it is still a prominent part of the school routine. In Finland, pupils are given little to no homework plus and have shorter school hours but have higher achievement levels. On top of this, students who spend the most time on homework experience more stress-related physical symptoms. This isn’t to say that we should abolish homework, but perhaps it shouldn’t be used as a tool to increase attainment.
2. Teachers are the Sole Influence on Pupils Learning
Of course teachers are extremely important, but learning is an interactive process with influence and input from a range of individuals and factors. The home environment is a significant factor, with studies showing that parental involvement has a powerful influence on children’s academic performance.
3. A Proven Method will Work on all Pupils
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to helping pupils, be it in academic, social or behavioural developments. Context should not be overlooked, and different children from different backgrounds will not all respond to something in the same way. Approaches should be tailored to a certain area, school, class or even individual pupil.
4. Smaller Classes Means Bigger Improvements
Although it would make sense that a smaller teacher to pupil ratio would benefit pupils, there is little evidence to suggest that it can have a positive impact on learning on a wide enough scale to make a difference. Consider the financial repercussions of smaller classes; hiring more teachers and buying more resources – this is just not feasible for all schools. In fact, higher performing education systems in Pisa prioritise spending on higher quality teachers over class sizes.
5. School Type Matters
It doesn’t matter whether you are part of an Academy, Private school, Grammar school or anything else. John Hattie believes that good leadership is the key to student success. Some believe that a comprehensive education promotes fairness, whilst a selective one promotes excellent and quality, yet the highest performing systems combine both.