Monday, March 20, 2023

Cognitive Dissonance


So, in a way it is why the greatest dangers are not from foolish people who do foolish things or evil people who do evil things but from good people who persist in doing their foolish wrong things to preserve their beliefs that they are good, kind and competent. (Dr. Carol Tavris)

 Dr. Carol Tavris, co-author of the newly released third edition of Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me): ‘Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts.’

The book explores reasons good people remain wedded to foolish approaches.

I have not read the book but the above is exactly what I have learnt from reading many posts and tweets. 

Even someone like Dr. Sam Bommarito who is one of the handful I have high regards for makes this mistake. He writes about being a centrist and yet says things that are contrary to being a centrist. Other than the fact that he has been influenced by many who write that children should not be taught to memorise the high frequency words he has no basis for saying that HFW should not be memorised.

In a conversation over Zoom, I told him that I teach my students how to read by memorising Dolch words and phonics at the same time. In my first lesson I get my students to memorise 5 Dolch words and teach them phonics using word family. Despite this explanation he asked me how students will memorise thousands of other words beside the 220 Dolch words. Read more in my blog post here.

There are many others who have told me that most of the Dolch words are decodable and therefore should not be memorised. How many of us who write about teaching kids to read do not know that a majority of Dolch words are decodable? They don’t appear to know the reason Edward Dolch recommended these words to be learned, in as early as the 1930’s. Read more on what Sam Twitted here. 

When do we teach kids to decode the word ‘with’? I teach my students this word in my second lesson. They can rote memorise that word and read many sentences that incorporate the word ‘with’.

Social psychologists study all the many ways in which our environments influence us. People like Sam, Brittney Bills and many others are influenced by what they read. They are unable to think. These people continue to prove what was said by Charlie Munger ‘The human mind is like the human egg’.

‘Once we have a belief, we see the information that will confirm that belief, and we stop seeing what we don’t want to see, don’t expect to see, have no wish to see. That’s the blind spot in how we perceive what other people say and do, how we evaluate our own behavior.’ (Dr. Carol Tavris)

Most of these so called experts read what others have written and believe what they read and do not think for themselves.

‘If you make somebody feel stupid for a belief they hold, or for an action they took, guaranteed they’re not going to listen to your wonderful words of wisdom. They’re going to cling even more tightly to their justifications for what they did. Because what’s the alternative: admitting that they did something foolish or stupid. No one wants to admit that.’ (Dr. Tavris)

Yes, I have known this for decades but it is not these so-called educators that I am concerned about. If I can get a few teachers and parents to think for themselves by what I write, I will be more than happy. I believe there will be a ripple effect.

What in the world is wrong with these educators admitting they have done something foolish or stupid? If they are genuinely interested in helping kids who are unable to read and if they proclaim to be centrists, then they ought not to say anything they don’t know anything about.

When they are stuck and are unable to proceed with a ‘debate’ they turn around and ask me for my credentials and to produce research reports.

I was the first person to dispute what research reports had said about phonological awareness deficit for more than 35 years. In 2010 I wrote several articles and comments that phonological awareness deficit cannot be the cause of children being unable to read but hardly anyone was willing to think. This theory was finally debunked around 2017.  

‘When I, a good, compassionate, smart doctor learn about a new kind of surgery that is less invasive and more successful than this other thing that I’ve been doing,’ you don’t feel the need to say, ‘If I accept this new method, what am I saying about all of the patients I treated in the past, that I didn’t give this new method to?’ You say, ‘Thank God for this new information. Going forward I can be a better doctor.’ So, these are all skills that we can learn. People can really learn how to deal with dissonance, and to do it in a more efficient and effective way.’ (Dr. Tavris)

Yes, we, parents and teachers alike, should be able to learn and move forward.

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