The Challenge of Unlearning
|Above copied from the New York Times|
Such understanding obviously begins with an awareness of misconceptions. One cannot methodically cure without knowing the illness. An article written by Philip M. Sadler and Gerhard Sonnert published in the American Educator specifically looks at addressing misconceptions and what may be required of teachers. Sadler and Sonnert find that a teacher who is knowledgeable in the subject he or she is teaching is inadequate for correcting misconceptions. In order to be effective, a teacher must be likewise aware of the misconceptions his or her students have. This is summarized in the following graph in Sadler and Sonnert's paper:.
|Above copied from American Educator|
Why is it so difficult to unlearn? The reason is that such misconceptions have become beliefs. Achenbach quotes Marcia McNutt, editor in chief of Science and president-elect of the US National Academy of Sciences:
“We’re all in high school. We’ve never left high school. People still have a need to fit in, and that need to fit in is so strong that local values and local opinions are always trumping science. And they will continue to trump science, especially when there is no clear downside to ignoring science.”It therefore makes sense that creating a cover page similar to the one below to characterize Marcos' undying popularity in the Philippines is really an exercise in futility.
|Above copied from the Daily Mirror|
Unlearning is indeed a significant challenge to education and it becomes insurmountable if people of influence remain unaccountable for spreading misconceptions. Millions of Filipinos appear to have misconceptions of the Marcos dictatorship. It is perhaps true that textbooks as well as teachers have not done enough to correct these misconceptions. This, however, is not the complete story as demonstrated by Sadler and Sonnert in their science instruction study. People dream of better times when they are unhappy. The failure of various administrations after the Marcos era to deliver a more transparent government and a more inclusive economic growth continues to fuel these misconceptions. Addressing this only through basic education is not enough. With continuing incompetence and corruption in both private and public sectors in the Philippines, this misconception of the Marcos dictatorship will only grow in the generations to come.