The 'Learning Pyramid' is B***s***

Look at the diagram. That’s a pyramid of different ways to instruct a student, and it’s ordered by how much the average student will retain from that method of instruction. When you first look at it, it seems to make perfect sense, and you can recall yourself, practicing and teaching things, and they’re what you know most about, right?

But, if this is true, then why are listening and reading so important to any type of learning? Why are we always asking students to listen to us, instead of teach us? Why are we always promoting the importance of reading, instead of getting students to practice instead? It’s because they are really important to any type of learning. I have listened to and read about so much more to do with my subject than I have practiced or discussed. When I think about it like that, this pyramid makes no sense to me whatsoever.

To me, this is simply the process you go through as you learn about a subject, and you naturally retain more of it as you get to the bottom of the pyramid because that’s the order in which you do them, so at the end of it, you’re bound to have retained more because you’ve just been doing it longer.

You can’t ask someone to teach something that they have never had anything to do with before, simply because they will retain 90% of what they are teaching. How will they know what to teach?

You start by hearing about something: someone tells you about it. You find out more by reading about it. You watch programmes and documentaries on your subject. You start to tell and show others about it. You realise you can improve on how you do that, so you practice it. Finally, you’re ready to teach. You’ve done all that work beforehand, so you know 90% of the stuff you need to. Not because you are teaching, but because you are at the stage where you are ready to teach. Is that not completely obvious?

What is your opinion on the Learning Pyramid?
Read the full series: Top Ten Things That Are Bullshit In Teaching
Similar post: Things I Wish Were Different About Teaching: Number 1 No faddy things that need to be evidenced in planning


Fred Tracy said...

Haha, I see what you're saying. Of course you remember something better when you teach it, because after all, you've already read it and probably practiced doing it, so you have the lower levels to help you remember the subject matter.

I will say that teaching someone how to do something REALLY cements it in your brain. If you want to remember something, first show someone else how to do it.

The Edudicator said...

Yes it does which is why everyone sees this pyramid and goes, "Oh yeah!" and thinks it's right. But it's not, that's just the order that learning goes in.

oldandrew said...

This is rather good about the figures being nonsense:

The Edudicator said...

Nice link, thanks Andrew!

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