Denial

Professor Plum praises the Scientific American article on self-esteem myths and quotes a fellow education professor, John Stone, who observes that educators never admit their mistakes.

From the early sixties to the mid or late eighties, virtually no one within the professional education community seriously questioned what teachers were being taught about self-esteem.  Doubters were thought of as heretics or fools.

. . . Self-esteem boosting has faded in popularity but no one in the education research community has admitted their error, much less announced that the misconception should be corrected. 

When drugs are found to be ineffective or harmful, they are taken off of the market.  When teaching practices are found to be faulty, everyone keeps their mouth shut so as to avoid upsetting anyone.

Stone and Plum believe today’s “best practices” in teaching will turn out to be worst practices for most children — and that nobody will ever admit it.

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Comments

  1. The article is “dead-on.” Few teachers, and almost no administrators, will admit errors when it comes to pedagogy. Sadly, I think that the probable reason for this reluctance to admit mistakes is the notion (perhaps true) that to do so could imperil one’s career.

    Public Education is a world apart.

    There are so many good things that can be learned from self-assessment and self-criticism. But alas, I don’t think that it’s going to change anytime soon.

  2. Stone and Plum believe today’s “best practices” in teaching will turn out to be worst practices for most children — and that nobody will ever admit it.

    My mom, a remedial reading teacher for some 40 years, has been saying this for, well, some 40 years.

  3. Richard Nieporent says:

    education professor, John Stone, who observes that educators never admit their mistakes.

    Of course not. It would lower their self-esteem.

  4. Richard Brandshaft says:

    “Public Education is a world apart.

    Right. Everyone else freely admits their mistakes.

  5. Richard Brandshaft wrote:

    Right. Everyone else freely admits their mistakes.

    Not quite. Everyone else is held accountable for their mistakes by the people they serve, by their customers.

    Since the ostensible customers of the public education system can’t exercise choice, the accountability mechanism is flawed. No accountability? No admission of or responsibility for mistakes.

  6. No one likes to admit mistakes. The biggest problem in education is not admission, but recognition. Too many people never realize they made a mistake because they are not careful practitioners or have done the research. As for accountability–go to a school board meeting of a failing school in a district where parents care and tell me that someone’s feet won’t be held to the fire.

  7. khaber wrote:

    As for accountability–go to a school board meeting of a failing school in a district where parents care and tell me that someone’s feet won’t be held to the fire.

    I have been and there isn’t.

    On yeah, there’s yelling going on and people get the axe and there’s turmoil but that’s not accountability, that’s panic. It’s only accountability if it’s timely, accurate and applied. Otherwise it’s just academic.

    And of course no one likes to admit mistakes. That’s not the issue. The issue is how to take the mistake-admitting process out of the hands of the mistake-makers and put it in the hands of the mistake-sufferers.