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Tuesday 21 Nov 2017

Ten Faulty Notions About Teaching and Learning

Dr. William Heward, professor of Special Education at Ohio State University, published an article in the Journal of Special Education “Ten Faulty Notions About Teaching and Learning That Hinder the Effectiveness of Special Education.” This is an excellent article for both teachers of students with special needs and families. It outlines and describes 6 dimensions of effective special education practices and then 10 faulty notions which impact the effectiveness of special education.

The six dimensions of special education are that it is (1) individually planned, (2) specialized, (3) intensive, (4) goal-directed, (5) uses research-based methods, and (6) is guided by student performance. If a student’s program meets all of these criteria it is most likely that the student is going to be making maximal progress. Dr. Heward asserts, however, that there are ten “misguided notions about teaching and learning that impede the systematic use of research-based instructional practices and hinder the effectiveness of special education”. He views these 10 notions as damaging to the practice of special education. The misguided notions he describes are:

  • Structured curricula impede true learning
  • Teaching discrete skills trivializes education and ignores the whole child
  • Drill and practice limits students’ deep understanding and dulls their creativity
  • Teachers do not need to (and/or cannot, should not) measure student performance
  • Students must be internally motivated to really learn
  • Building students’ self-esteem is a teacher’s primary goal
  • Teaching students with disabilities requires unending patience
  • Every child learns differently
  • Eclecticism is good
  • A good teacher is a creative teacher

Dr. Heward posits that these faulty notions are not only present in special education, they are equally present in general education which may negatively impact the efficacy of inclusive education because general education teachers may be even more prone to engaging in weak instructional practices based on these notions.


  1. In formal education, a curriculum is the set of courses and their content offered at a school or university. As an idea, curriculum stems from the Latin word for race course, referring to the course of deeds and experiences through which children grow to become mature adults.

  2. Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!

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