Here are extracts of a well written article by Emina McLean and my comments:
Considerations for Science of Reading conversations: Can I change your mind about changing minds?
We already know quite a lot about what works best in reading (and writing) instruction.
In my view, the three primary reasons misinformation persists about reading instruction are:
- pre-service teachers are not equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills during their training (nor are they apprised of the misinformation that they will likely encounter)
- there are vested interests at all tiers of education (people who have skin in the status quo game) which impacts professional learning provision, programs, policies and practices
- changing your mind is usually a very hard thing to do
My comment: I like the ‘changing your mind is usually a very hard thing to do’ part.
I have written about the people with vested interest in education several times.
We all, to varying degrees, have a preference for information that is consistent with what we already know, feel or value. This information makes us feel good because we are being affirmed and it is easy for our brains to engage with. We are all subject to confirmation bias, again to varying degrees, and avoiding the mental work that is required to acknowledge and engage with new and differing information. We look for, with and without awareness, information that confirms our views and we ignore or dismiss that which doesn’t.
“When information is inconsistent with what is already known, it lacks fluency – it ‘sticks’ and doesn’t feel right. The lack of fluency can elicit negative feelings, leading people to doubt and reject new information that contradicts existing beliefs” (Berentson-Shaw, 2018, p.57).
Cognitive dissonance is really what this quote is referring to. This is when we feel a sense of unease or discomfort when what we are being told is at odds with what we already believe, and in this case, we engage in what is called ‘identity protective cognition’, which is our tendency to selectively accept and dismiss information based on beliefs that predominate the group we belong to.
My comments: Wow! Isn’t that the truth.
This is especially true for kids predisposed to disengaging/
shutting down from learning to read. I have mentioned this several times in my
blog posts. Many kids cannot accept information that is inconsistent with what
they already know. One of my first posts was on a student who refused to sound
out the word ‘fox’ because she had learned the phoneme of the letter f as
fur/fuh. As such how can the word fox sound the way I told her to sound it out.
I then discovered that this was the main reason why kids disengage from
learning to read. You may read more on this here.
Yes, most people avoid ‘the mental work that is required to acknowledge and engage with new and differing information.’ Why would they want to ponder over what one person says about the wrong teaching of sound-symbol skills being the paramount reason for kids disengaging from learning to read? It is easy to say, ‘Yes, no one disagrees with you (Luqman) but that is only one of the reasons when there are many.’
“The lack of fluency can elicit negative feelings, leading people to doubt and reject new information that contradicts existing beliefs” (Berentson-Shaw, 2018, p.57).
Thank God, that as far as kids are concerned, the above
applies only to those predisposed to shutting down – the approximately 20% as
stated in many articles on why kids disengage from learning to read. A majority
somehow figure out how to read. As mentioned by me several times, an inordinate amount of time is wasted by these kids who figure out how to read. You may read more here and here.
Intervention by dedicated teachers around the world helps these kids to unlearn what has been learned wrongly and accept the new contradicting information.
I believe it is a problem to change the minds of adults because of ego. They have been saying something wrong for years and mentally block correct new information.
Here are some quotes from an article I wrote on cognitive dissonance which can be found here.
“I don't believe it. Prove it to me and I still won't believe it.” —Douglas Adams
“Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” John Kenneth Galbraith
“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still” - Dale Carnegie.
“The human mind is a lot like the human egg, and the human egg has a shut-off device. When one sperm gets in, it shuts down so the next one can’t get in.” — Charlie Munger