I got my bachelor’s degree in education, which is why I’m now a bureaucrat. Of the many “education” classes I had to take, only one was good and useful– Choral Education Methods, taught by the choir conductor. This class covered the idiosyncrasies of choral education, but Dr. H was also very smart by including classes dedicated to things like “Classroom discipline” and “What to do and not do if a student develops a crush on you.” Dr. H will always have my admiration for tackling actual, substantive and important issues in that class, the only professor to have done that in my entire career as a student.
Aside from that, in all the other classes I had, the only solid concepts that seemed of any importance were Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and the various intelligences and the difference between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Even in my dumb college days, I took even these relatively grounded concepts with a grain of salt: Maslow seemed a little too “New Agey” (even to my esoterically-trained self) if taken to logical conclusions and they kept adding intelligences. But they were at least concepts I could put to some use, which was far better than the rest, which were so useless and moronic that even my useless and moronic college-self immediately tossed it out of my brain.
However, thanks to Instapundit, two links today undermine even these ideas for me. (gee, thanks Prof. Reynolds. . .)
From the NYT: Research Upends Traditional Thinking on Study Habits
and from Megan McArdle: Confirmation Bias
From the first, a key (for me) excerpt:
Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded.
Mind, on the same page I see a link to Tasty Vegan Food? Cupcakes Show It Can Be Done, which is clearly utter nonsense. Good cupcakes demand both eggs for the cake and butter for the icing. So who knows how trustworthy the article quoted is– if the journal PSPI is in any way related to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, you’ll have to be on your guard. Still, read the whole thing, if you’re interested. Its something to think about.
From the second link, mostly about Confirmation Bias (a thing from which this entry clearly suffers but, seeing as I’m a Slytherin, it does come with the territory), has this quoted from Keith Humphries:
Maslow was influential because he was very smart, wrote well, and had many good ideas. But he was also influential because his theory told many of the cultural elites of the era that they were objectively more mental healthy and more psychologically developed than were their opponents. Flattering poppycock, and also dangerously undemocratic.
. . .Maslow did what Kolhberg did in his theory of moral development and Rollo May and all the existentialist psychiatrists did in their theories: He asserted that the objectively highest state of human development was to be like him and like people he admired.
Again, read the whole thing. I’ve found that many “Spiritual Paths” are taught and led by people who fall for the same thing that Maslow did. So often, you read about the steps of spiritual progress, and you figure out pretty quickly that you are really reading the authors autobiography, and that you will have attained spiritual enlightenment when you understand and see everything in the same way they do. The is true among many of the Western Occult teachers, teachers of Buddhism, teachers of Whathaveyou, etc. . .
It makes the emphasis on humility in the Judeo-Christian tradition quite refreshing. The Catholic Church will never definitively say that any specific person has gone to Hell, and before declaring anyone a saint, they insist on three miracles (my father expressed it as the requirement for God’s Vote). No one living on Earth is considered truly enlightened, because anyone still living is prone to sin. Only those who have passed on to Heaven are seen in such a light, and only after the miracles. No matter how beloved Blessed Mother Theresa was, until there are three miracles, human fondness means very little– God must have His Definitive Say.
So, all that said, it looks like, aside from Dr. H’s class, everything else was a waste of time. I likely could have told you that then, but I’d have had nothing to back that opinion up. Now that I’m out of education, of course I see these articles.