Study: Many Teachers Believe Neuroscience Myths

Published December 6, 2012

Teachers believe a great many myths about brain science, such as that learning styles matter and enriching preschool environments boosts learning, according to a study recently published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. The more general knowledge a teacher had, the more likely she was to believe false, popular myths about how brains work.

The researchers surveyed 242 British and Dutch K-12 teachers about myths such as “individuals learn better when they receive information in their preferred learning style (auditory, visual, kinesthetic, etc.),” “we only use 10 percent of our brains” and “there are left- and right-brain learners.” Research has shown all of these are untrue.

Yet 47 percent of teachers believed the 10 percent myth, 76 percent believed the enriching environments myth, and a whopping 94 percent believed the learning styles myth. Overall, 49 percent of teachers surveyed indicated they believed something false about how brains work.

“When people lack a general understanding of the brain and do not critically reflect on their readings, they may be more vulnerable to neuromyths,” the study said. “Thus, a lack of neuroscience literacy and reading popular media may be factors that predict the number of misconceptions teachers have about the brain.”

Image by U.S. Department of Education.