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We Teach Them Wrong, Change Your Teaching Methods, Make It More Practical – Stephen Ofori



As a teacher, I have had the opportunity to study about some educational practices and owing to that I had other opportunities to read the finding of some theorist whose theories have greatly contributed to teaching and learning over the years. One of which I personally am critical about is Richard Acklan’s “we teach them wrong”
The philosopher and writer (Richard Acklan) wrote in his book titled “we teach them wrong”, spelling out some contents of the instructions of instructors which deviates from the normal. Meaning, that the right contents are passed to students but the concept behind them are a total deviation from the truths.

A Ghanaian educationist once said teachers teach exactly as they were taught. This assertion is overtly true. This means the very explanations to concepts that we received from our teachers, back in our school days is what we passed on to our learner’s today.Consider the following statements made by teachers to justify these claims.
1. Divide both sides by two
as in 2 x = 4

  1. Five crosses the equal to sign to change to negative. as in x +5 = 7
  2. Only nouns form their plural by adding an s
    . Okay so you see why our learners can’t distinguish between the word classes? Verbs can also be inflected with s or es to accompany a singular nouns. Our.pupils may think once a word is inflected with an s, it becomes a noun.

  3. You are owing someone six and you pay four. Take the one that you owed as the negative and the one that you paid as positive as in -6+4
    ….Very hilarious! Why not use a number line or charge particles to teach this concept?

  4. Zero will cancel zero and the answer is 20
    as in 200/10. Okay tell me… Will you penalized your learner if he uses four to cancel four in 244/4 and tell you the answer is 24?
    These and many other examples are explanations that we pass on to the kids that we teach which are false and totally erroneous.
    You see?

  5. In the case of 2 x= 4 , there’s no magic in mathematics where a coefficient of a variable will wake up and just start to divide both sides. The mathematical truth is that, we introduce the multiplicative inverse of the coefficient.
    Note, the multiplicative inverse of 2 is ½ and 3 is 1/3, of 4 is ¼ etc.
    We multiply both sides of the equation with the multiplicative inverse of the coefficient so that the equation remains unchanged. So we have
    2 x =4
    2 x × ½ = 4 ×½
    x = 2

In 2, five has no legs to cross the equal to sign.
Actually in 2 x+ 5 = 7,
We introduce the additive inverse of 5 at both sides of the equation so that it remains unchanged. The additive inverse of 1 is -1 , 2 is -2, -8 is 8 and so on.
So we have : 2 x +5=7
2 x+5-5=7+(-5)
2 x=2

Considering these facts, it is obvious sometimes we don’t get our concepts right sometimes.

Modern day teachers should make use of the large spectrum of technological devices to broaden their knowledge scope. This can also be achieved through seeking assistance from others who may be experts in particular fields. We also need to do an extensive research on the topic that we intend to teach before we make any attempt to stand before your learners.

The use of Teaching aids will also help learners to easily consolidate what is being taught and the concept behind it. Concepts are powerful and they carry wieght. Let’s teach the right concepts to our learner’s and we won’t regret it.

Thank you.
Written by: Stephen Ofori (S.O)
Yerepemso D/A JHS

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