The Ten Deadly Sins of Education

By Paul Kirschner – Published 21 Mar 2020

In the final chapter of our book How Learning Happens: Seminal Works in Educational Psychology and What They Mean in Practice, Carl Hendrick and I briefly describe ten deadly sins of education. Giving in to sins is often tempting, but if you do you’ll be implementing evidence-UNinformed education and flying in the face of evidence. What follows is a very abridged version of that chapter.

1 The Learning Pyramid

The learning pyramid supposedly reflects the effectiveness of different forms of teaching. According to the pyramid, pupils only remember 5% of what the teacher says, 10% of what they read, 20% of an audio-visual presentation, etc. The percentages vary in different pyramids, but that’s not important. What is important is that it’s nonsense.

Why? First, there’s no basis for such percentages. Even the institution that everyone quotes (National Training Laboratories) says they don’t have data to support them. Furthermore, the pyramid is simply a corruption of Edgar Dale’s cone of experience (1954), in which he indicated how media differ along a continuum from abstract (language, letters) to concrete (direct experience). Finally, even if the percentages were correct, you can’t do anything with it. No lesson is purely one or the other and just adding these percentages up teaches us that you could learn more than 100%!


For the rest of this article – please go here.

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One thought on “The Ten Deadly Sins of Education

  1. Good. Thanks.

    Roger Kaufman, Ph.D., CPT, ABPP, Professor Emeritus, Florida State University,

    Fellow, American Psychological Association, Fellow, American Educational Research Association.

    1123 Lasswade Drive, Tallahassee, Florida 32312;

    Email: or; or

    Phone: 850-386-6621 or 850-386-6874; FAX: 850 422-2722.

    I am honored that The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) has created the Roger Kaufman Award for the continual achievement of measurable positive societal impact by an individual or organization”.

    Please see any of my 41 books on


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