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Archive for the 'Psychology of Education' Category

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

Theme tune composed by David Vesey

On this week's podcast I speak to cognitive scientist, Professor Daniel T Willingham from the University of Virginia. We discuss learning to read, learning styles, multiple intelligences, education research and more. The full range of topics includes:

  • Applying the science of learning in school and at home
  • Paradigms of cognitive psychology (reasonable assumptions)
  • How cognitive science replaced behaviourism
  • How cognitive science might inform the teaching of different subjects across the curriculum
  • The relationship between basic science and applied science for teachers
  • Why an opportunity exists for teacher organisations to review science and provide periodic updates for teachers to critique ideas (such as say, grit).
  • Initial teacher education should provide a grounding in the science of learning and subsequently teachers’ knowledge needs to be updated as the science evolves (and why the onus for such updating should not be on individual teachers)
  • Among the few reliable publications for teachers he'd recommend are American Educator, and Phi Delta Kappan.
  • Evaluating the relative importance of technical competence (decoding) and motivation in learning to read.
  • The difference between reading a book and listening to an audio book (How prosody helps comprehension in audio books and how regressions help us in comprehending text) and why textbooks are different.
  • Can audiobooks help a child who is having difficulties learning to decode?
  • Criticism of the learning styles theory of the mind – there’s no scientific basis to pedagogies based on learning styles. Why style differs to memory and ability and the importance of meaning in learning. Learning styles may offer a different ways for a teacher to think about topics they’re going to teach.
  • The construct of mental ability and multiple intelligences. Is intelligence one single construct or is it several independent constructs?
  • Can critical thinking be taught? Can being a good critical thinker in one domain help you think critically in other domains? The importance of seeing the same underlying structure in various guises when practising critical thinking.
  • How he evaluates the value or potential contribution of a research article in education.
  • Contradictions in educational research – parallels with COVID-19 research. Why professional organisations need to tease out research implications for teachers.
  • Why he reads very broadly in education.
  • Daniel Willingham’s “2002-style” website. He’s on Facebook and Twitter @dtwillingham. His most recent books are Why don’t students like school (2nd out now) and Outsmart your brain (August 2022).

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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

Theme tune by David Vesey.

On podcast 420, I welcome back Stanford University School of Education Professor William (Bill) Damon who was one of the first guests on this year's schedule to discuss his new book, A round of golf with my father: The new psychology of exploring your past to make peace with your present. Among the topics  we discuss on this bonus episode are the following:

  • Different interpretations of what a life story is
  • Life Studies by Robert Lowell
  • Your intention for telling a life story
  • What a life review is and why it can be done at any stage of life
  • How William Damon adapted Robert Butler’s life review idea for his purpose.
  • How to go about doing a life review
    • Talk to people who remember your past
    • Records (school and others, ancestry searches)
    • Memory search
    • Putting it all together – focusing on what gave you satisfaction and fulfillment
  • Why he never met his father
  • How school records have changed since the 1950s.
  • How his father’s character developed over time, possibly through the demands and experiences of military service in World War II.
  • What he learned about his own character from doing the life review
  • Why character is a movie and not a snapshot
  • Why he believes that psychological theories such as some of Freud’s work and the “big five personality traits” are wrong
  • How he went about making a personal story interesting for an audience beyond his immediate circle of family and friends
  • How a life review can help you find a purpose in your life
  • How someone not looking for a purpose can find one
  • His mother’s role in his life review
  • His definition of purpose
  • His memories of being taught by some of the pioneering psychologists of the twentieth century, including Erik Erikson and Jerome Kagan who was a guest on Inside Education a few years ago: Podcast 1 and Podcast 2  and who passed away in May 2021.
  • Some of his earlier books: Some do care (with his wife, Anne Colby), Noble Purpose, The Moral Child and Greater Expectations.
  • Why he called the book A Round of Golf with my Father when he never met his father!


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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's programme I speak to one of the pre-eminent developmental psychologists of the twentieth century who continues publishing books and articles up to the present day. Professor Jerome Kagan of Harvard University has conducted research into infants' temperaments and how they are related to personality in later life. He is interested in how psychology can inform teachers' work. Among the topics we discuss in this part of the interview are:

  • The relationship between temperament and personality
  • How knowing about temperament helps teachers
  • Children who find it harder to work in groups
  • Insights the discipline of psychology offers to teachers
    • Auditory and visual acuity
    • Short-term, recall and episodic memory
    • Ability to Infer
    • Deduction
  • Questions he’d like educational psychologists to answer
  • What teachers need to know about human emotions

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