The education sector is awash with popular myths and fads that have little, if any, grounding in evidence at all. Yet, many teachers accept these popular myths as fact. Some do so because of the indoctrination they received during their initial teacher training, others do so because an advisor or consultant told them it was a good idea. These popular myths are so well entrenched that you will even find them referenced in some appraisal systems.
1. More Homework Means More Learning
Researchers have found that the connection between more homework and greater learning is tenuous at best. This is especially true for grade school and middle school students. In an effort to redesign the student workload, many districts around the US have begun prohibiting homework on weekends, holidays, and even weeknights.
2. More Money Means Better Schools
Although school spending has increased over the past several decades, neither graduation rates nor test scores have budged from their relatively dismal standings. Since 1970, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has been administered yearly to a representative sample of US students, and the scores have not correlated positively with the boost in expenditure and the rise of technology over time.
3. The Myth of Insurmountable Problems
Many policymakers are quick to blame society for underperformance in schools. But the belief that education can’t help is dangerous. Reforms that focus on the incentives of public schools lead to educational gains, and accountability and choice have often been shown to deflate the significance of social problems like poverty.
4. Test Scores Are Related To Economic Competitiveness
Consider Japan, whose current economy flags while its students continue to ace assessment tests. Or Finland, New Zealand, and Sweden, each of which produces at least as many research engineers as the US per 1,000 full-time employees. Quality education can prevail in an economically challenged nation. There’s no doubt about it.
5. Schools Alone Can Close The Achievement Gap
The achievement gap is already apparent in students on their first day of kindergarten, due to a number of factors including economic background, educational background (how educated are the student’s parents?), nutritional intake, genetics, and parental guidance. Because of this contingency, researchers have argued that it reflects poor reasoning and poor policy to believe that school reform alone could ever close the gap.
6. Private and Charter Schools Are Educating Kids Better
NAEP scores of private and charter school students are no higher than those of public school students. Studies suggest that the “boons” of private schools may amount to nothing more than the exposure to other students with educated parents and affluent backgrounds.
7. Teachers Are Clueless About The Content They Are Teaching
Twenty-eight states require secondary-level instructors to have majored in the subject area they plan to teach. All candidates must pass content exams before completing their program or being certified to teach. Twelve states require elementary school teachers to have earned a content degree, and nineteen require middle school teachers to do the same.
8. The “Teacher-Proof Myth”
There are no teacher-proof solutions. None to be legislated, none to be bought, and none to be accessed virtually. The human task of helping a student cannot be replaced by automated learning models, nor by one all-purpose instructional method arising from trial and error. More trust must be placed in our teachers.
9. Our Teachers Work Less And Get Paid More
According to an OECD report, US teachers spend between 1,050 and 1,100 hours per year teaching – much more than in almost every country. Argentina and Chile are also high on the list. Despite high spending on education, teacher salaries across the world are far lower than those earned by other workers with higher education credentials.
10. Unions Defend Poor Teachers
Between 2006 and 2010, 245 teachers resigned or were dismissed in the US. This is because the unions have made an effort to monitor underperforming teachers in school districts across the nation. If students in one classroom are performing worse than students in another, it makes little sense to blame the teacher before considering other factors.