Urban Legends in Education: What Does the Research Really Say?


Mark Twain said that “In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand and without examination”. Unfortunately this is also true in education. Educational technologists, reformers, designers, politicians, teachers, school headmasters, and advisory groups are all jockeying to show how innovative and up to date they can be, based not upon good science but upon commonly held yet unproven and/or untrue beliefs. As a result, much time and money is spent, little is achieved and students are the dupes.

Why? The reforms are most often not based on good science (and specifically the cognitive and psychological sciences) and/or good scientific research, but upon beliefs and plausible sounding rationale and/or arguments.

Paul A. Kirschner will look at a number of these urban legends from the perspective of what cognitive science and good research in the field has to say about them.