iatefl_2014_russell_mayne - Iatefl Online

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A guide to pseudo-science in English
language teaching
Russell Mayne
@ebefl
[email protected]
www.le.ac.uk
What is pseudoscience?
‘Brain based learning’
‘Neuromyths’ (Anderson and Reid 2012, Buch 2014, Geake 2008, Swain
2008).
• Learning styles
• Multiple intelligences
• Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)
• BrainGym
Support for Neuromyths
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•
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The CELTA
The British Council
ETP
HLT
IATEFL voices
ELTJ
IATEFL
•
•
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Mario Rinvolucri
Herbert Puchta
Marjorie Rosenberg
Jim Scrivener
Jeremy Harmer
Brian Tomlinson
Richards and Rogers
Why are they so popular?
• They sound intuitive and plausible
• Seemingly learner-centric
• They seem personal
• No strong prohibition against them
• People believe what they want to believe
What’s the harm?
• Waste of resources
• Pigeon-holing students
• Professional credibility
• Erosion of standards
• Possibility of spreading bad practice
Baloney Detection Kit
A GUIDE TO SPOTTING PSEUDOSCIENCE
IN EDUCATION
www.le.ac.uk
Question 1
DOES IT MAKE ‘TOO GOOD TO BE
TRUE’ CLAIMS?
BrainGym can help students to…
• Learn ANYTHING faster and more easily
• Perform better at sports
• Be more focused and organized
• Start and finish projects with ease
• Reach new levels of excellence
‘NLP can be used to…’
• Overcome Phobias
• Treat depression
• Cure allergies
• Stop anxiety
• Improve dyslexia
Question 2
DOES IT MAKE ILLOGICAL OR
IMPOSSIBLE CLAIMS?
Learning styles/NLP
• Humans have 5 senses
• Humans have many senses
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•
•
•
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• Thermoception (temp)
• Nociception (pain)
• Chronoception (time)
Auditory
Visual
Kinaesthetic (touch?)
Olfactory
Gustatory
• “Brain Gym activities… enable students to access those parts
of the brain previously inaccessible to them.”(Swain 2008)
• Dr Beth Losiewicz (Swain 2008) “There is no scientific
evidence whatsoever that any part of the active brain goes
“unused”. Even when resting, there is brain activity occurring
throughout. We don’t need Brain Gym to make this happen, it
happens naturally.”
Question 3
DOES IT MAKE CLAIMS THAT ARE
VAGUE OR HARD TO TEST?
Multiple intelligences will help you with…
• Teaching through art and music
• Developing creative thinking skills
• Using the brain's potential more fully
• Raising student self-esteem
BrainGym
• “as children integrate Brain Gym throughout their days, they
will take on the experience of personal wholeness and selfesteem that will support them throughout their lives”
(Maguire 2001 online)
Question 4
DOES IT USE A LOT OF CONFUSING
‘SCIENCY’ SOUNDING TERMS?
Different learning styles
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convergers /divergers
verbalisers versus imagers
holists versus serialists
deep versus surface learning
activists versus reflectors
pragmatists versus theorists
adaptors versus innovators
assimilators versus explorers
field dependent versus field independent
globalists versus analysts
assimilators versus accommodators
imaginative versus analytic learners
non-committers versus plungers
common-sense versus dynamic learners
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intuitionists versus analysts
extroverts versus introverts
sensing versus intuition
thinking versus feeling
judging versus perceiving
left brainers versus right brainers
meaning-directed versus undirected
theorists versus humanitarians
activists versus theorists
pragmatists versus reflectors
organisers versus innovators
lefts/analytics/inductives/successive
processors
versus rights/globals/deductives/
simultaneous processors
Neuro-linguistic programming
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sub-modalities
Pragmagraphics
surface structure
deep structure
accessing cues
non-accessing movement
Zone of congruence
meta-model violations
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‘submodalities’
PRS
Context reframing
Eye-accessing cues
Meta outcome
Milton model
Predicates
Complex Equivalence
Question 5
DOES IT HAVE LITTLE OR NO
SCIENTIFIC CREDIBILITY?
Learning styles
• a lack of “credible evidence for its utility” (Pasler et al 2008:117),
• “it is not clear that any useful generalisations can be based on the
research undertaken to date” (Ellis 2008:669)
• “it is hard not to be skeptical” of the claims of learning styles
advocates. (Hattie 2009:197)
• “[we] advise against pedagogical intervention based solely on any
of the learning style instruments.” (Coffield et al 2004:140)
• “a convenient untruth.” (Thornbury 2010:online)
NLP
• “no credible basis in neuroscience” (Roderique-Davis 2009:58)
• “outmoded view of the relationship between cognitive style and brain
function” (Beyerstein 1990:28)
•
“a series of unsubstantiated speculations about how the human mind
operates” (Heap 1989:123)
• ‘under-investigated and narrowly focused on sensory experience’ (Thornbury
2006:143)
• controlled trials had shed such a poor light on this practice…that researchers
began questioning the wisdom of researching the area further” (Devilly,
2005:437)
BrainGym
• “There have been a few peer reviewed scientific studies into the methods of
Brain Gym, but none of them found a significant improvement in general
academic skills.” (Blakemore in Swain 2008 online)
Multiple intelligences
• I am leery of implementations such as […] believing that going through certain
motions activates or exercises specific intelligences [….] I once watched a
series of videos about multiple intelligences in the schools. In one video after
another I saw youngsters crawling across the floor, with the superimposed
legend ‘Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence’. I said, ‘That is not bodily-kinesthetic
intelligence, that is kids crawling across the floor. And I feel like crawling up
the wall.’ (Gardner 1999:142)
Question 6
IS CONTRARY EVIDENCE IGNORED
BY SUPPORTERS?
• Further research with more appropriate methodologies is needed to validate the
use of learning styles assessment in instruction (Pashler et al. op.cit.). Until this
occurs, however, as Chapelle (1992: 381) states, we simply cannot disregard the
concept of learning style, ‘which express[es] some of our intuitions about
students and which facilitate[s] appreciation for the divergent approaches to
thinking and learning (Hatami 2013:2)
• Neither MI theory nor NLP have been subjected to any kind of rigorous scientific
evaluation. However it is clear that they both address self-evident truths –
namely that different students react differently to different stimuli and that
different students have different kinds of mental abilities. (Harmer 2007:93)
• NLP has been labelled a 'quasi science' and criticised on the grounds of lack of
empirical studies, but there are sound reasons why NLP is compatible with
current classroom practice. (Darn 2005)
“But teaching is an art!”
• “Assertions –in both science and art– always need
justification: you don’t make things true just by
saying they are” (Swan 2000:2).
EFL: A ‘broad church’ or a ‘free for all’?
Thank you for listening
Any questions?
www.le.ac.uk
References
•
Anderson, M. & Reid, C. 2012 left brain, right brain, brain games and beanbags: Neuromyths in education in Adey, P &
Dillon, J. Bad Education Berkshire: Open University Press 179-198
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Buch, P. (2014) Neuromyths and why they persist in the classroom retrived 1st feb 2014
://www.senseaboutscience.org/blog.php/77/neuromyths-and-why-they-persist-in-the-classroom#sthash.aEbZiaLX.dpuf
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Beyerstein, B.L. 1990, Brainscams: Neuromythologies of the New Age. In International Journal of Mental Health Vol. 19,
Number 3: pages 27-36
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Coffield F., Moseley D., Hall, E., and Ecclestone, K., 2004 'Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning : a systematic and
critical review' London; Learning and Skills Network.
•
Darn, S. 2005 ‘Neuro Linguistic Programming in ELT’ in Teaching English Retrieved September, 25 2013
://www.teingenglish.org.uk/articles/neuro-linguistic-programming-elt
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Ellis, R. 2008. The Study of Second Language Acquisition 2nd ed. Oxford:Oxford University Press.
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Gardner, H. 1999 Intelligence Reframed. New York: Basic Books
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Geake, J. 2008 ‘Neuromythologies in education’ Educational Research 50/2 123-133
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Harmer, J. 2007 The Practice of English Language Teaching Essex: Pearson Education Limited
References
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Hatami, S. 2013 ‘Learning Styles’ ELT Journal 1-3 [accessed online]
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Hattie, J. 2009 Visible learning Oxon: Routledge
•
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Heap, M. (1989). Neurolinguistic Programming: What is the Evidence? in D. Waxman, D. Pedersen, I. Wilkie & P. Mellett
(Eds.) Hypnosis: The Fourth European Congress at Oxford. London: Whurr Publishers, 118-124.
MaGuire, T. 2001 BrainGymin The ETL newsletter available at ttp://www.eltnewsletter.com/back/May2001/art592001.htm
•
Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., and Bjork, R. 2008 'Learning Styles: Concepts and evidence' Psychological Science in
the Public Interest 9/3, 105-119
•
Richards, J. C. & Rogers, T. S. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (2nd ed) Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press
•
Roderique-Davies, G. 2009. Neuro-linguistic Programming: Cargo Cult Psychology? Journal of Applied Research in Higher
Education 57-63
•
Swain, F. 2008 Sense about science: Brain Gym available at
http://www.senseaboutscience.org/data/files/resources/55/braingym_final.pdf
•
Swan, M. 2000 ‘Crystal balls: Art, science and onus of proof’ IATEFL
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