Another dot in the blogosphere?

Some good, some bad

Posted on: July 29, 2019

One of the podcasts I subscribe to is No Such Thing As A Fish. I listen to its weekly releases and am catching up on previous episodes.

In episode 187, No Such Thing As An Ant On Its Gap Year, the panel discussed (around the 30-minute mark) the marshmallow experiments.

Like most people, they started with the supposedly predictive nature of the experiment, i.e., children who delayed gratification were more successful later in life. However, the experiment was more about the children’s coping mechanisms and decision-making.

The panel also critiqued the experiment, e.g., what if the children were not hungry, what if they did not like marshmallows, what if the more immediate factor was whether the kids trusted the adults to actually provide the marshmallows?

The initial mention was bad because it perpetuated the wrong idea about the original experiment. The follow up was good because it modelled ways of thinking critically about the experimental design. However, the whole process could have been good had they corrected the perpetuated misconception of the experiment from the start.

My message to teachers and educators is simple — do not perpetuate misconceptions. Dig beyond the surface, bust myths, and model critical thinking.

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