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The 5 most common teaching legends

October 3, 2022
Françoise Crevier
The 5 most common teaching legends

A while ago, we reviewed some neuromyths (beliefs about training or education that are not based on evidence) that are still too deeply rooted in people's minds, such as the notion of right brain/left brain or multitasking. Today, we continue the discussion with Françoise Crevier, a specialist in educational engineering, to discuss some pedagogical legends. By pedagogical legend we mean a misconception related to teaching itself.

Discover the 5 most common pedagogical legends.

1-Microlearning to learn faster

"Subscribe to our training minute". Be careful not to confuse "training" with "information". You can inform for a minute, which is what newsletters do, but training is quite different. To train a person well, you have to transform the connections between their neurons in a lasting way. Let me have doubts about this after one minute of information... It is not because everything has to be fast and easy that we learn faster. Our encoding mechanisms are biochemical and they probably haven't changed much since the mammoth hunter and the blueberry picker...

Learning is demanding and requires making connections with our current knowledge. One minute of training may be a waste of time!

2-Long live technology

What if we added media elements to prevent participants from losing interest during class? The question should rather be: Why do participants drop out? Probably because only the trainer is cognitively active: he or she is having fun and enjoying the content he or she is passionate about! The participants, on the other hand, are just passive spectators whose brains are not sufficiently stimulated. They go into "sleep mode" and their brains run in slow motion, in case, all of a sudden, an unexpected element would be of interest...
The solution? Less teaching and instead create stimulating environments that will force them to learn on their own and build their own knowledge, alone or in teams, in their own way. If a course is designed for this purpose, the instructor is not essential to the learning and can easily (and advantageously) become a guide. The solution lies in the pedagogical scenario that is created, not in the technological additions.

3-The training is good because the participants are happy

The opinion of the participants should be interpreted with caution. They do not know the field in sufficient depth to make a critical judgment. This is normal since they signed up for the course! For most participants, a course is good if the expert prepares very well structured content, teaches clearly, interacts with the participants, asks questions and gives exercises. Their expectations are therefore relatively low and high satisfaction rates are easy to achieve in this context.
However, experts (almost always) use the logic of the person who knows and not the eyeball approach of a person who wants to learn. In other words, the learning path is not the cognitive path taken by the expert. In this type of approach, it is the expert who leads the way! He knows where he is going and he "tows" the brains to their destination, without pitfalls or risks.
We need to do things differently: by creating learning environments that challenge participants, make them move at their own pace, let them make mistakes... and help them when needed. Guiding them instead of towing them! Their brains are active and they are learning... Some will find this less comfortable because it is more demanding, but better suited to the task at hand.

4-Competence or knowledge?

Knowledge is a cognitive construct that is gradually built and stored in memory in our neural network. For example, as a musician learns, he is able to read more and more complex scores. The more knowledge we have had the opportunity to store, the richer and better stocked our toolbox.
Skills, on the other hand, are not stored: they are deployed and demonstrated at every opportunity, but without guarantee... The example of the musician is enlightening. The soloist has a lot of knowledge in music theory and interpretation. During a concert, he uses his knowledge to interpret the score (and to delight the audience). But there is no guarantee that he will get it right, night after night, and that everything will be perfect. He may be less competent tonight than he was the night before...

5-Experts are natural teachers

We all went to school for many years and interacted with many teachers, but that doesn't make us pedagogues! We lack solid knowledge, which allows the deployment of the specific skills of this field. The same is true for course design. Helping to develop skills is instructional engineering, a skill that content experts do not have.
That's why experts must work in tandem with instructional designers. While the former ensure the quality and accuracy of the content, the latter propose effective pedagogical approaches.

Like neuromyths, educational legends are still too common. Developing engaging training that meets a clearly stated pedagogical objective requires the tandem work of an expert in the field and a specialist in instructional design. To each his own!

To go further :

Educational Approach: Creating Engaging and Effective Trainings


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