Top critical review
13 people found this helpful
on 15 July 2013
I'm a big fan of evidence-based policy and so was excited to receive this book. My excitement turned to disappointment when I started reading the chapter on learning styles. Petty starts well, referring to Coffield et al's demolition of learning style theories but then went on to talk about "left-brain right brain" learners, (31) and the whole brain model (32). Petty claims Coffield "rated highly" this theory. Well since we're talking about "evidence" let's see what Coffield actually did say:
Martin (1994) describes the Herrmann `whole brain' approach to teaching and learning and how it appeared
to benefit a large client company in the UK. However, apart from the impressive business portfolio of the
Ned Herrmann Group and the six pages of testimonials from participants in Applied Creative Thinking
courses, there is very little published research evidence to convince sceptics of the potential value of the
Herrmann approach for large-scale use in post-16 education and training.(84)
It almost certainly needs further work if it is to be used with a wider constituency of younger, less experienced and less literate post-16 learners than those to be found at higher levels of responsibility in the business world(84)
It is presented as a tool for learning, for use in a climate of openness and trust. However, like other such tools (for example Kolb's LSI, Honey and Mumford's LSQ and McCarthy's 4MAT), its potential to improve the quality of teaching and learning, formal and informal, has not yet been substantiated in a rigorous manner, other than to the satisfaction of its proponents. (84)
I have to wonder if Petty actually read the report at all. For someone promoting "evidence based teaching" his acceptance of the `split brain' myth is somewhat surprising. There is a large body of research disputing the left-brain right-brain dichotomy, such as:
Clearly Petty's evidence doesn't extend to well-published refutations of this. His "brain teaching" section goes on for pages talking about the debunked notions of left/right brains and asking if you are a "whole brain teacher" or not, -without even a whiff of criticism of this. This is the second edition so really there is no excuse for this at all.
It's clear from this that Petty is no academic and the "teaching for dummies" layout of the book further cements the notion that this is not a serious work of research. "evidenced-based" isn't just a nice title, it has meaning. Claiming to present the evidence means you must be thorough and if you live by the sword I'm afraid you must die by it as well.
I felt rather sick when I discovered the truth about this book. I hope I can get a refund and I hope that this review will stop other people making the same mistake I did.