Besides Learning Styles – Other ‘Zombie’ Theories That Should Rest In Peace

It Is Not a Valid Excuse

That everyone else is doing it, using it, talking about it, publishing on it:

Learning Styles

… is but one example.

But But

Here is another great article on this … 2 parts of it anyway …

Classroom practice – Listen closely, learning styles are a lost cause
news | Published in TES magazine on 21 November, 2014 | By: Daniel Willingham

So why do some teachers still insist that learning styles exist? First, people are confusing learning styles and ability. The former suggests that
someone can learn better through a particular medium, the latter implies that they are better able to remember certain types of information.
For example, if you are the sort of person who can remember a face after meeting someone only once, the chances are you have good visual abilities.

Likewise, if you have a good ear for a tune, you are likely to have good auditory abilities.
What the theory of learning styles states is that this ability transfers to how we learn. Therefore, if you are a “visual” learner, seeing information
means you can understand it better. But while you might remember the information more easily if you are high in visual ability, there is a difference between remembering a face and understanding who that person is. There is simply no evidence that a visual learning style will help students in their understanding.


I should stress that even though learning styles do not exist, this does not mean that all children are the same. We know that children differ, for example, in the knowledge that they bring to the classroom, in their interests and in their academic confidence. As far as they can, teachers should differentiate to account for these factors.

But the theory of learning styles is an attempt by researchers to impose organisation on these differences. Instead of just saying that children are different, the intention is to categorise them: if you know that a child falls into the “holistic learner” category and not the “serial learner” category, so the theory goes, you can teach them more effectively. But you can’t. It’s a lie we need to stop telling.

To get the rest of this article please go – here.

But Wait – There’s More!!!

Following the Willingham article is this gem….

Tom Bennett on the ‘zombie’ theories that should rest in peace
Zombie ideas are popular beliefs that linger on long after they have been shown to have little or no evidence base. Some of the theories below have faded in popularity, some remain mainly in memory and others still terrorise children and teachers on a daily basis.

Thinking hats
At one point, not too long ago, there was a roaring trade in coloured caps, beanbags and wigs as children were encouraged to assume roles and unlock different chambers of their faculties. Unfortunately the evidence mainly consists of testimonials and painfully small studies.

Bloom’s Taxonomy
Status: everywhere. Lesson plans hum with the sound of teachers fretting about how much of each layer they have delivered. But from base
knowledge to the divine stratosphere of creation and criticism, it remains a highly contested model of thought, with worrying moral judgements inferred from its structure and order. That’s not to say that teachers haven’t found it useful, but this implies nothing about its veracity.

Neurolinguistic programming
This bundle of sunbeams seasoned with a soupçon of science was all the rage in the last decade, even though questions were asked about its utility from the day it was born. It is a “science of success” that promises everything from the ability to detect lies to influencing the weak-minded. Sadly, the scientific backing is somewhat smaller than the hoopla surrounding it.

Multiple intelligences 

Some people are mathematical thinkers. Some are musical. Some are good with nature. Hey, everyone’s a genius at something! This speculative model of the mind uses the word “intelligence” in such an elastic manner that it could describe almost any aptitude. And it rests on very little tangible research that either points to its existence or its usefulness as a theory. This hasn’t stopped a million websites trying to sell methods of magically assessing your intelligences.

Three-part lessons
Back in the days of England’s national literacy and numeracy strategies, a fairly cautious piece of research suggested that one feature of some
effective lessons was that they were often split into introductory, main and plenary segments, composed of sections that built upon one another. A frantic profession seized upon this guidance and deified it, until almost every school used the three-part structure. But they didn’t know why and neither did the generations of teachers and trainers who perpetuated the dogma.

Red ink implies negativity
Oh, really? Someone had better tell Santa. And Coca-Cola. No research backs this up.

Tom Bennett is author of Teacher Proof and director of the ResearchED conference.

For more information, visit                 

Coffield, F, Moseley, D, Hall, E et al (2004) Should We Be Using Learning Styles? What research has to say to practice, Learning and Skills
Research Centre
Arter, J A and Jenkins, J R (1979) “Differential diagnosis. prescriptive teaching: a critical appraisal”, Review of Educational Research, 49/4: 517-55

Avoid the Foo Foo

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That is all:

Avoid the Foo Foo.

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3 comments on “Besides Learning Styles – Other ‘Zombie’ Theories That Should Rest In Peace

  1. Pingback: T&D: Learning Styles Are Bogus | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  2. Pingback: L&D: My Learning Style Preference: Osmosis Learning | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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