• Time for a clearout of urban myths

    Posted by Admin in Artist News on January 21, 2018


    At the time of writing, I am on my to speak at the  eLearning Network’s annual conference in London. While I am looking forward to sharing my views on how learning and development professionals need to skill up to meet new challenges and to take advantage of new opportunities, I am enthusiastic to hear from the other keynote speaker, Pedro De Bruyckere, co-author, with Paul Kirschner and Casper Hulshof, of Urban Myths about Learning and Education.
    The learning and development world seems to be inhabited by rationalists and romantics, with a distinct leaning towards the latter. I characterise them as typefaces. While the rationalists are analogous to Times New Roman, sensible but uninspiring, the romantics remind of Comic Sans, cuddly but daft as a brush. As a liberal sort of person, I should be really happy to see such diversity, but I’m really not sure that romanticism is such a good strategy to hold when you belong to a profession that people look to for advice and inspiration. After all, would you not be just a little un-nerved if your doctor prescribed you a herbal remedy, or taken aback to discover that an astronomer ordered his life around the predictions of astrology?
    Of course I am exaggerating. Most learning and development people are sensible enough and want to do the best job possible, but their own teachers on train-the-trainer courses have provided them with totally inappropriate tools with which to understand the world of adult learning. Yes, I’m talking about learning styles, NLP, MBTI, 70-20-10, Dale’s Cone of Experience and much more. Now some of these have some groundings in genuine research and have simply been misinterpreted and miscommunicated over the years, some have been offered up as legitimate theories but been since been discredited, and some are just somebody’s opinion (which is not a problem unless you start to treat it as some sort of universal truth).
    To discredit a widely-held and much-loved myth does not make you popular. It makes you a party pooper, like someone who pronounces themselves an atheist at a funeral, warns of a house price bubble or tells you that bacon is bad for you. And there are times when it is better to keep these views to yourself. However, working as a professional is not one of those times. A true professional is always looking for evidence that will better enable them to provide an effective service to their clients, even when that sometimes means giving up on an idea that you’ve taken to heart.
    Suggested reading for myth busters and other rationalists:
    Evidence-Based Training Methods, 2nd Edition by Ruth Clark (ATD Press, 2014)
    Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn by John Hattie and Gregory Yates (Routledge, 2003)
    Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter Brown and Henry Roediger (Harvard University Press, 2014)
    Urban Myths about Learning and Education by Pedro de Bruyckere, Paul Kirschner and Casper Hulshof (Academic Press, 2015)
    Design for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen (New Riders, 2015)
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