What Sir Ken Got Wrong, and what the blogger got wrong too

November 21, 2013 at 1:30 am 3 comments

Really interesting blog post, dissecting the mistakes made in a very popular TED talk.

Sir Ken’s ideas aren’t just impractical; they are undesirable. Here’s the trouble with his arguments:

1. Talent, creativity and intelligence are not innate, but come through practice.

2. Learning styles and multiple intelligences don’t exist.

3. Literacy and numeracy are the basis for creativity.

4. Misbehaviour is a bigger problem in our schools than conformity.

5. Academic achievement is vital but unequal, partly because…

6. Rich kids get rich cultural knowledge, poor kids don’t.

via What Sir Ken Got Wrong | Pragmatic Education.

I don’t completely agree with all of Pragmatic Education’s arguments.

  • Intelligence may not be malleable.  You can learn more knowledge, and that can come from practice.  It’s not clear that fluid intelligence is improved with practice.
  • Learning styles don’t seem to exist.  Multiple intelligences?  I don’t think that the answer is as clear there.
  • Creativity comes from knowing things.  Literacy and numeracy are great ways of coming to know things.  It’s a bit strong to say that creativity comes from literacy and numeracy.
  • There are lots of reasons why rich kids are unequal to poor kids (see the issue about poverty and cognitive function.)  Cultural knowledge is just part of it.

But 90% — I think he gets what’s wrong with Sir Ken’s arguments.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. joshg  |  November 21, 2013 at 11:45 am

    From what I’ve read so far of ed psych, it depends what kind of multiple intelligences you’re talking about. If they’re talking about Howard Gardner’s version, it’s not supported by actual data. (And that’s usually the one that people in education have in mind when they use the phrase “multiple intelligences”.)

  • 2. David Klappholz  |  November 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    …and my impression is that the idea of personal learning styles of the sort “person X learns best when learning style Y is used” has pretty much been debunked. What does appear to be the case is that there are subject-related learning styles; that is, learning styles such that “for material X most students learn it best when learning style Y is used.”

  • 3. Andrew Martin  |  November 21, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    It’s good to see a response blog to the one on Pragmatic Reform. While I agreed with many of the concepts, some of them are just plain wrong, as shown by joshg above, and some are more of a subjective opinion than an objective fact.


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