Expertise in Education with Dr. Tom Nichols
Whoever you are wherever you are and whatever it is you are kitchen some brainwaves coming to you from the banks of the splendid and notorious Saint River almost always sunny long Colorado. I'm becky peters at across the table as the only host who actually knows what's happening at area fifty one. He's been John cale bed what sketch it is all good becky. I'm coming off a high from our last episode with Chase Milky and one of the things he talked about was how can we teach from a full full-tank and the opposite of teaching from a full tank is an empty tank burned out take an exhausted tank and I think exhaustion and burnout aren't things that just impact impact us as teachers but impact everyone in this overload information era we have and so we hope this episode provides you some fuel for that and I I had a drive to work about a week and a half ago that really encapsulated everything that our interviews. GonNa talk about today and I just like to take her listeners on a journey renew. y'All ready for that. I'm ready all right so I was driving to work just enjoying the B. e. a. -utiful almost always sunny longmont. Colorado is a beautiful day okay and I'm looking at the mountains and I noticed giant seven thirty seven airplane fly overhead those exhaust like moisture trails in the air and my mind immediately wondered the dozen or so buzzfeed articles that I've seen that say those aren't just exhausted water vapor but actually dangerous chem trails feels that the government is using to poison us and it was the same week of the anniversary of nine eleven and I probably had ten or so friends who posted youtube videos proving that nine eleven then was staged or an inside job and not a couple seconds later. I passed walgreens inside. They had a billboard out front for flu vaccines and I feel like so many of my facebook book. Friends are posting about how vaccines actually give you the flu and then that very trip on the radio they were talking about storm area fifty one an event coming up by guess really soon where citizens who don't believe the experts are going to area fifty one because they think experts are lying to us so just one drive and this exhausting amount of information. Have you had stuff like that happened with you before. Becky yes like all the describing my life and I think what really freaks me out about it. Too is like how I don't know that we're equipped for for all of this information evolutionary and like just anthropologically. All of this stuff comes at us so far I mean I was driving my kids to the mountains yesterday in a car going sixty miles an hour and can you know they're not feeling well no. McMahon yeah this just isn't. It's just not that natural. I feel like I'm constantly trying to make decisions and reading dozens of opinions all unlike the same subject to so. Let's take something small like the our diet. We complain about this all the time you can find opinions and blogs on why a meatless diet is better or a meat. Only diet is better like cuter diet or you should eat small meals throughout your entire day or you should just eat once a day it a small time restricted window. They're opposed outing the benefits of line and chocolate and how that should be all you eat and then and other people say like no no don't eat or drink those things at all and with all of these topics we have this inner desire to feel like we have to be the experts on everything like our opinions should be as important as every expert's opinion and by doing that were really doing is degrading and dismissing the value of real expertise so we're so excited excited today to have on the show a guy named. Dr Dr Tom. Nichols who's a five time jeopardy champion which made me really nervous to talk to him at all but you you'd think that he would think that he knows everything about everything because that but the great thing about him is that he knows he doesn't and his advice for thriving in the world today comes through loud and clear in his book called the death of expertise and one of the biggest takeaway is to learn to allow ourselves to rely on experts more than we do which will save us all time feeling like we have to be experts on everything and honestly. I think that was a big motivation for us to Ben. In like the development of this PODCAST WE WANNA learn from the giants and education so that we have the tools strategies and knowledge to develop collective efficacy and make an impact not just on what we know but what we can learn from experts without a doubt and that was really one of my biggest takeaways as well as that we live in an era where the Internet has made us all feel like we should be able to use google to be experts on everything and his book really helped convince me that I need to admit what I don't know and my limited knowledge in in most areas of life and that's not a depressing thing but that limited knowledge should actually encouraged me to learn more one of my favorite quotes from his book. That's changed how I parents and how I work around. Kids is that self esteem isn't the biggest virtue we should teach kids and the one that really stuck out to me was nothing builds up resistance to learning like a constant praise but that sink in for a second nothing builds up resistance to learning like constant praise and as a lot of listeners who notice how awesome. I say how how often I say the word awesome can probably attest to I constantly praise my kids so the question I've really been grappling with since our interview is how can I help my kids feel safe safe and loved an affirmed but let them know they're still so much to learn and they are so far from being experts so my daughter just started kindergarten in the fall and she'll come home and do some mind-blowing writing or learn all these new skills and my natural inclination is to be like Oh. That's so awesome good job. You're so smart and instead had I been forcing myself to say things like that such great work. I can't wait to see what you learn next or you have so much left to do just kind of refrain me in that way and that's so hard for me to. I I catch myself all the time saying that 'cause my own is in kindergarten as well and I find myself saying not all the time but I like that better lake. Let's I can't wait to see what you will learn next and that ties into another another thing that Dr Nichols talks about in the book is as we learn more. We realize how much more we have to learn in any given area. He explains this cognitive that if heuristic a little bit more in the book and we talk about it a little bit in the interview so i WanNa frontloaded a little bit it's called the dunning Kruger effect and essentially it means that the less we know about something the more we think we know about that saying he cites a study where even the less people knew about Ukraine for example like where it has a map or with their political structures. I like the more adamant they were about their opinions about current politics there so like the less they knew the more angry and heated and passionate they were that they knew the right answer her and sometimes it's when you're comfortable with knowledge to like how many of your friends would say they're better than average drivers from polling something like eighty percent of people think they're better than on average drivers. which obviously we all know can't be true or before? I started podcasting. I would rank myself like maybe a seven out of ten on my ability to host a super successful bad guests like I can do an audio recording according in garage bands and I can play together. How hard can it be but now two years in a brain waves. I'd probably rank myself like a four or less out of ten in how much I know about this Bendy Jamuna things all the time and even interviewing it takes so much studying and time to plan effective questions so as with most things the more I've learned the more I realized I don't know no and that's really the essence of the done incur affect that novices tend to overestimate their abilities and expertise experts tend to underestimate their abilities. The part hit me super hard to and I thought back to my interview for my job and thinking of when they ask me questions and you know Kay. How will you be walking into a math classroom or or kindergarten classroom. I overestimated my ability because I'm like oh good. Teaching is good teaching yet now doing this job for four years. I think I would probably rate my ability lower. The more I've learned so what are some implications you think of Dunning Kruger in our work becky well. I think about it a lot and we touch about it a little bit with Dr Nichols Nichols in the interview but I know we've all had conversations with colleagues and friends about how just because ninety percent of people in the country have been through public schooling that sometimes they I think that they are experts on instruction and teaching but really they don't have the opportunity to see the complexities that we see as teachers administrators and then I know this please into it to lake. How many times a week have you shared on social media or two friends headlines that you have no source for or that you like just read the headline really quick and then shared it like. Oh my God. Can you believe this or then leader. Brian even like over drinks later you say oh my gosh you can't believe what I heard. Today I do that all the time and of course I do it better and more responsibly than most other people because of the dunning in Kruger Effects and I think because I listen to NPR too much and I totally trust them but I know I do it and it doesn't help because I think we could all be much better about citing sources and then also doing doing more digging when we aren't sure of a claim that gives us like that little twinge of doubt that we kind of tend to ignore and just keep sharing news because we see the headline in it since cessation all European yeah absolutely he talks a lot about confirmation bias to just kind of goes along with what chase said is that you tend to find what you're you're looking for but we always are finding the data to back up what it is. We wanted to find so the buy stuff was fascinating to me. and I know it might be kind of bias but this is about to be the best interview. Our listeners have ever heard so. Let's get to it. That's great and there's one where I'm going to stick in here. It's called desirability by us and that's what we we. Where are we want to believe to be true. We believe more readily and I want us to be the best interview ever so I'm biased about it too but as you listener taken these thoughts from our experts guest Dr Tom Nichols tried to be thinking about the question. How will I act think and teach differently in the light of findings and opinions from today's expert. Dr Nichols does so without further ado here he is. How do you define the problem. If you had in just a couple of sentences. The problem is not the pro. I I often start by defining what it's not but I'll try and be a little more positive. The problem is back or the twenty first century now think they know more than experts that they think they are to use a word. I'm from Richard Hostetler's book that I mentioned in my book. They think they are omnicompetent and that is something that's different different. Alive folks said well come on this. Isn't that New Right. Nobody likes intellectuals Nobody likes college professors and that's true who I mean don't talented professors and experts and pointy heads and scientists. There's always been a kind of a good natured ribbing of well sometimes not so good natured but good natured ribbing one of those people in American. Life it infecting tell a story in the book where I was at my brother's bar and after I left the guy my brother ran a tavern afterward afterwards like I turn to my brother and said so your brother's professor and he said Yanni says seems like a good guy anyway but that's more and so I really was writing about that. What struck me was the degree to which people were now willing not just be skeptical or mistrustful of experts to assert positively the they knew more than experts in the night that finally kind of triggered me to write the blog was a conversation having with young person about Russia in this. This person said very confidently to me Tom on my russian-speaking Russia expert of thirty thirty years experience and this young person said to me Tom. I don't think you understand Russia's. Let me explain this to you and I said okay. This is where I get off this train. No this is where I top in you. Listen a kind of sat down and said how did this happen because I've been hearing stories from doctors doctors teachers lawyers diplomats and I it's sort of jelled in my head my goodness. This is actually something that's happening to allot people in a lot of fields and so I sat down and wrote the post and and that's how it came about but that to me is what I was writing about. That's the thing that's different. It's not people saying I'd like a a second opinion or I don't entirely trust you on this. I'd like you to explain it. That's normal what was different was people saying. Oh you're a Russia expert. Let me explain issue or you're a neurosurgeon. Let me tell you about brain surgery. I've actually when I was on the road. I literally had a a pediatric surgeon. Come up to me and tell me about the parents that have come up to him and said here's the procedure. Were were hiring you to do. In fact that was in the Mid West and the surging campaign he said this couple came up to me with toddler and they came to my office rather. Here's the here's what she has and here's the procedure we're wanting to do and he said that's a very dangerous procedure. and I talk about this in the revised in the new version of the book. I I tell this story because up until then been kind of laughing about stories like this they hate doc. You know my here's what you should do to my elbow but this was a little more serious than he said that's really dangerous procedure and I don't recommend that and they said No. We're not asking you. We've done our research. We know what we want. it was dangerous as it turned up the girl because the doctor said they wouldn't do the procedure and the parents were very angry and they took they left and they took her to another doctor. Who did the procedure and the child wasn't fact gravely and you you know he started told me the story very regretfully and so you know I tried to tell them. This is not a good procedure. That's not what your daughter needs. If this remind honor wouldn't be my choice on and on and on the parents demanded it and they finally found a doctor who would do it and a child was very seriously injured an it's dangerous in the larger political sense because we're a modern were a post modern society. We rely on each other in a republic to make decisions on each other's behalf all the time. We're not Switzerland. We don't just gather a bunch of votes every year and vote on the budget for example yeah but we're not a direct democracy and to make our system of government work. People have to agree to to defer to each other on uncomplicated issues. you know. I'm not an expert in health policy. I can't design a better Medicare program. I have to trust people who are going to argue this out present their findings to our elected representatives and then let us make some decisions. I was an adviser to a US senator on Foreign Policy you know I gave him my best advice and he you know we would talk about it and he would have other sources of advice and he would get my input and there would be hearings and debates when people get to the point of saying listen. I'm not asking for anybody's advice or opinion here. you know. I'm I land in Ohio our in our organ California or wherever it is and I'm just telling you here's all this stuff I want done and here's how you're going to do it. We will collapse as a democracy Chrissy that way. You cannot run. You can't even run a town that way much less you know a superpower three hundred and thirty five million the people it's just not possible you know even towns with elected managers are mayors have to hire sanitation experts and budget experts and tax lawyers and people who know what they're doing and so if we keep going on this road of saying well all of us are just as smart as anybody nobody else which is demonstrably false by the way you know there is no doubt about it why everybody's everybody's the opinion is as good as anybody else's ally then we really are going to collapse. We can't sustain that kind of narcissistic this assisting selfish self involvement and still be a democracy where we have to have at least some modicum of trust in each other now with that that said and I'll I'll get off the soapbox but would that's how I know that there are people listening her sick but you know you experts have really screwed things up. You've made mistakes. You've you've let us into wars depressions or crises. My answer to that is first of all experts are going to make mistakes if you want a zero defect expert. You're you're not going to get it. We're we're going to make mistakes. Just less likely to make mistakes than you are. In our subject. The other is a lot of things that the American public in particular thinks of as mistakes. I MM-HMM WHEN I'm talking with groups about this say. You're calling it a mistake. I call it something you thought you wanted and you told us to do you want a cheap money and houses that never went down in value and the government instead of doing the government's job and saying you know this isn't a good idea. Not Everybody should go out and buy a house or two condos or a house in vacation house and then cash out the equity in go to Disney. You know the bankers who are and I I don't put the bankers in the expert category 'cause they're salesmen but the economists warned this is a bad idea but the government you know responding to is said you want cheap houses you you want to be able to take out a mortgage without being credit worthy okay. That's what the people want. That's what the people get and very often and when I'm on the road people say we don't trust experts because Washington doesn't listen to us and my answer to that inevitably is the big problem in American House that Washington listens to you way way too much totally well so we don't trust experts we trust ourselves more and I think we push back on that because one of the quotes in your books is that expertise necessarily exclusive and that we are in increasingly narcissistic culture that cannot endure the slightest hint hint of inequality of any kind what you mean by that because the first time I read it I'm like yeah of course we shouldn't endure inequality. So what do you mean by that. Ah Inequality in expertise is unavoidable and the sooner we get back. We used to know that and it used because we weren't also delicate once upon a time you know and it's not just in the professions. I I had a house fire a couple years ago and the the the traits people who are working in my house carpenters electricians were telling me that they come through the same thing where people walk up to them and say so what kind of why are you putting rigging there. What kind of easing there for stain on of course they say well. I'm doing X Y and Z but but of course the homeowner homeowner has no idea you could be they could be putting vert spaghetti in there. All the guy knows and and I think that that again it's because people want to feel empowered. They don't WanNa feel helpless. They don't WanNa they don't WanNa feel like the electricity comes in and says look you know I'm GonNa make your lights go on they feel like they have to annoy the guy and pepper him with questions that they can't understand because otherwise they feel L. disempowered and they do this doctors teachers professors go with electrician's and plumbers and everybody else and I. I think it's there once was a time where somebody would say look. I'm a brain surgeon but I don't know squat about what's going on in my electrical panel so I'm GonNa call allocation and when he gets here he's going to tell me some basic stuff about what he's going to do and then I'm going to get out of his way. Being good at one thing doesn't make you good at everything we use to understand that that if you know if you were carpenter and and you went to a lawyer an alert that here are the things you need to say to stay out of jail. The Carpenter said Yep got it. You're the lawyer. You're the law talking guy. I get whereas if the carbon came over to the house and said this is what I need to fix here or your house falls down the lawyer said A. I don't know anything the building houses if you're a licensed bonded carpenter. I'm GonNa Trust you on this. You're going to have to do what you're going to have to now. That doesn't mean you don't get second opinions. You don't get competitive bids but you you respect the division of labor and that's what's being lost and people don't like the division of Labor because everybody what he thinks that they have to be important and have something to say because that makes them feel like they're in control of their lives and I really do. I think it goes back. You know you can see this going back. All the way to the early nineteen sixties when Richard Hoffstetter road anti-intellectualism in American life he talked about how this in the book he talks about people really don't want to admit that when they wake up in the morning and make their coffee and pick up their newspaper and get their their toes. I they're using a bunch of appliances and processes that they could not possibly understand and we used to just accept that and say look if you you know I'll tell you let me give you an example tate. Your story for my has been fixed. the guy was repainting the inside and out because you have a fiery the picked over the smoke damage to stop smelling that and he said okay you know Mr Nichols. I'm GONNA use this kind of a sealer of using this kind of honest. Finally I don't know anything up. I don't know anything about what you're talking about I said are you telling me that. This is going to make my house. Stop smelling like smoke and he said yes and I said look I is an expert on nuclear weapons not unpaid. I said this is your department and he laughed and he said you started panicking and he said well so what is going to happen with North Korea finally a question. I get the think's going to happen and you know he's painting. He's nodding your think's going to happen. Here's my view some other people think and he said okay thanks got got it and then I went back to writing about nuclear weapons and Jim went back the painting the House because that's each of us was good at you know same thing when electrocution came in and he said he started. I can't even repeat what he said because he's around. I'm going to put in this kind of thing and it tricks on that. I said where's words words electricity right yeah right words words words lights and he said I really appreciate that. You just trust me to do this. toppings people we usually make me go through this song and I said listen when it comes to nuclear weapons or the Russians. Give me a call when it comes to the wiring the house. That's your department people that don't want to do that anymore. It makes them feel like they're lesser. People are unempowered or suckers chumps to simply trust another professional do a job like that. I think that's a terrible way to let's fascinating and and you talk to you about you know obviously about confirmation by hasn't done in Kruger affecting the bucket. It's all fascinating and I wonder as I was reading it like we're in education. I mean we get this all the time. You know people that have been school cool feel like they know what school should be about. and I think that's sort of the same issue that you're talking about but shouldn't education be the solution to this problem and is it do do you see it being the solution and how could it be the education if executed properly one of the things across as educators one of the one of moments in the book that has spent a divided people in the education field is the the way that I have a very old fashioned approach education. Which is you know? The student is the student not a client not appear not a not an interlocutor her. You know not a colleague. That's teachers. Teachers and students are students and it really bothers me now that we've adopted again this kind of fake Galateri Nissim about teaching where we say things like you know in the book I point out that one of the phrases I really hate is when a teacher says I learned as much from my students as they learn from me to a always say. If that's true you suck teacher the way that it's an even exchange of knowledge. It's not supposed to be you know the idea that a you know well my students are we're all learners. You know we're all to get no. I've been through this. I I've gone through the course. I know what I'm doing. I want the students to challenge me and questioned me and rough and tumble with me but I want them also start from the assumption that this guy he's standing in the front of the room and getting paid because he obviously knows something and I think that's one of the things that's been lost. Is that tell a story is Taurean. The book and it was Robert Gastro. The astrophysicists at Dartmouth apparently student was arguing with him about missile defense and finally finally Gastro said by this is what I think and the student begins it down and said well your guesses as good as mine and gestures stopped them and said Oh no no no Mike Mike guesses are much much better than yours and you know that is that that's to me. That's normal today. I think students would be deeply offended by that. You know there's a as I always tell the students look. There's a reason that I get to stand in front of the room and then I can pay to assign you. A great were not this is not cooperative. Veteran than Bennett goes back to your question about exclusivity you know in a classroom we are all all yes. We are students and teachers impact. We are all learners at different levels but nonetheless you know there is an exclusivity to it. I'm the one that has to report back to the university on whether or not you pass this course. They're trusting my judgment not yours and I. I have a responsibility that you don't have and I think students you know. It's easy to forget that and so students come out of school now thinking well well you know. I went to college for four years and that was four years of sitting around talking interesting people and learning some stuff and now I'm smart to. That's not really how it works college. I think in particular higher education it's not the shelf life of what you learn is actually pretty short in most fields unless you're in stem stem and you're basically learning math and science that's current at that moment but what's really valuable or the thinking skills and learning habits you acquire that carried through the rest of your career and I were too many people are looking at college or higher education or or advanced training as a capstone or the end of a process rather than the beginning of a process. It's interesting when I tell my military because I teach he check night at Harvard Extension School during the day than they will work college and I should say I don't represent the Naval War College bye-bye always tell me military colleagues you know when they look at our Regalia and our big sleeves and are funny hats. I say we got these for us. This is the equivalent of our of our lieutenants bar this costume that I'm wearing when I got my phd that was the beginning of my career not the end and they kind of scratch their heads for a moment because I say say for for an academic or scholar. The degree get be getting. The degree is the beginning of your career not the end. It's not a validation Asian. It's a license if that makes any sense you know. It's not like a validation for you've done. It's kind of a license to go out there and start practicing your trade as a scholar you're and keep doing no that makes all the sense in the world. I think even as teachers sometimes we look at it as a as a capstone doesn't end cap like the graduate high school. We've Jenner job. like it's the end but that's you're right. That's one hundred percent the beginning you said in the book you said education should aim to make people no matter how smarter accomplish their learners honors for the rest of their lives right. I mean I just the book the book itself that we're talking about the death of expertise it's from Oxford University. I E press and it had to have three anonymous peer reviewers sign off on the proposal to this day. I only know one of them is the way of calling on my call me. Has One of the guys were future book proposal. I really liked it but even at even at fifty odd years old in a PhD in full full professor tenured and all that stuff Oxford went out and found three professors and said this guy wants to write this book. Please give us your candidate and anonymous to me anyway. Not they're not anonymous to the press but you know are your private and candidate opinion about this work and it helped a lot. I mean I sat down with these comments from three of my colleagues and I said you know learning something here. These guys are these guys are helping me out and I have a book in a proposal in at Oxford right now and I've already got two of the reviews back and you know both times. I've said hey these are smart things that I hadn't thought of so you know the idea that even even at this stage of having written multiple books and top for all these years of course I'm stole learner. I'm just not as much of a learner from say a nineteen year old who who just got out of high school and it showed in class as I am from one of my peers who has written and can help me at my own that yeah that is great and I I think so yes so many questions as a follow up to that I'm curious. What is our responsibility when we see folks in our profession Russian like we don't have that opportunity to give anonymous feedback to someone like if we see someone in our system tweet out something that blatantly wrong or or something like what what would you recommend. is the role of a normal person win. Someone else doesn't listen to experts. I guess wow that is a great question while so let me let me answer in two areas. I you know if it's if neither of you are really experts in something thing. I think it's okay to correct a friend or a stranger or you know but first of all be sure you're right you. You know that nothing's you know there's an old internet law that every post I can't. I can't remember which is but every post host correcting opposed has another new era in it so you know make sure that you're right and also make sure as a matter of sociability. That's worth worse correcting. Someone I twitter and Internet Museum of actually you know Malkin. You're actually actually really worth it. Do you have to you know. Do you WanNa be as I bring up the character Klavan regarding well technically the original your cheers listeners TV show from the eighties the mailman at the end of the bar well you see and it's actually a known fact you don't WanNa be twenty four Sunday. Eh gets a little hairier. Ni- people who follow me on twitter. I'm at radio. Free Tom so so. If you WANNA follow me on twitter I am and we'll see that sometimes I really slapped down lake people because I get annoy when someone says when you know actually Tom let me tell oh you about Russia. I'm a little gentler with colleagues because you know I I seem some good faith effort on their part and and also because I I want to know that we're having a productive conversation where again maybe I'm wrong or maybe I didn't understand them so I I think it is a different and again. I- listeners will say well there. Is that elitism or there's that exclusivity but I think the way a doctor talks to a doctor away teacher talks to a teacher you know a little gentler and somebody walks up to a doctor and says you know cancers caused by windmills. Are The doctors say look. I don't have time to argue with you. You're just wrong. It's dumb the end whereas you know a doctor making a mistake in front of another doctor they might say look I I wanNA. I know why you'd think this condition isn't like that and I do think that there's two different so I think you know if you're going to do it to a friend friend or a stranger. Make sure right and make sure that it's worth it to be kind of an annoying jackass and went to a colleague be gentle because one day that colleague colleague we'll have to review your work and you might need some gentle correction as well and I think that's our I think among professionals. It's really important to correct each other other. Even on small things were the ones that are expected to get it right. That's fantastic advice and maybe if more of that happened. The experts wouldn't have been been wrong with stuff like eggs in all the stuff that you mentioned in the book so I think that's fantastic actually chewed my doctor. Who for for people haven't read the book. Get you know we were all told that eggs are bad for us right and I love eggs and finally I decided to lose some weight by going to you know high protein low carb all that Stephon my doctors all you're doing good. Your cholesterol is great. I said how's my cholesterol great eating almost a dozen next week and he laughed. He said Yeah we screwed that up and he said you know the extra want. They're not bad for you and but he said look you know and I told him because he knew I was writing this book and he made the very good point first of all most of the mostly other advice that your doctors would give you like don't eat eggs slathered in butter between green giant slices of French toast probably good advice but also who discovered that eggs work bet for you other doctors that there is this self correcting expertise mechanism where we do check each other's work and that you know we're we're living healthier longer. Anger lives than we ever did before so if your doctor's got one wrong about whether or not eggs up your cholesterol cup a break they got a hold the other stuff when that information bias that like if you want doctors to be wrong you'll find your own your own mind for sure what's yeah. I know a guy problem. Doctors are pretty good at what they do. Well I know a guy you know. It's like Yes anik data as as we call it hurts your data where I knew a guy and they saw it off his left leg instead of his right leg and the doctor was drunk and you know you know okay. There are airline pilots who have made bad landings or been suicidal or drunk doc. I'd still rather have an airline pilot flying the plane than me. Yes and you talk about that line in that the one movie wary takes the airline that where he can remember the date of every plane crash in the world and he just won't you just you just can't get on an airplane even even though Jenner at the end and I talk about this in the book. We have a really bad ability to understand statistics. you know that people people when people talk about you know airplanes or you know prescription drugs or whatever it is. I always find out listen. Swimming pools are killers. Just swimming or a lot of people don't have a swimming pool because I had a toddler learn and I said you know I'd rather not have the headache and you know I live near a beach. I can take her to the beach and watch her and the rest of the time. I don't have to worry about WHO's falling into the pool. You know things like that. The same people who worry about terrorist attack are texting while driving right right right and this is because again. It's you know I know the true probabilities. I know that you know I'm safe texting but that you know the terrorists lurking around every corner in Middletown Rhode Island Yeah so one of my favorite quotes is never have so many people had so much access to so much information nation yet been so resistant to learning and you say a statistic that shows our interest in learning is at an all time low Why do you think that is and how might teachers here's be to blame for that well. I think one of the problems is that we have turned learning into a purely instrumental and transactional whole idea now when I when I was born almost sixty years ago it was actually not the norm graduate from High School and going to college was practically unheard of and we didn't start getting high graduation rates from high school until the one thousand nine hundred sixty s and then we didn't start getting widespread college attendance until the nineteen seventies and eighties and I think part of the problem that happened with that is people decided that they didn't want to go to college. They had to that. You know it's like well. If I go to College College I'll get a job and that leads to viewing education as a commodity and so it's like I look just give me my fries and a Burger here you know giving my bachelor's degree with a side of fries and tweet me at the job I can get with this and I think that's a mistake because there are a lot of really good jobs in America that don't require college degrees and commodity ties education as they want eighteen you go here you spend four years. They give you a piece of paper and then you get a good job instead of a bad job and that is one of the most pernicious myths what's out there because there are a lot of places we're going to college paid to say this because I been a college teacher my life there are places. We're going to college release a waste of time. The student doesn't want to be there. They're not really studying anything. That's useful. They're kind of setting themselves up to be the world's most interesting Barista when it's over you know college is a serious business. People have to take it seriously and I think that's that's part of the problem because then the colleges become marketing vehicles right come to our oil because we have great dorms and we have good pizza in the quad and we have great a four programs and stuff like that and that's not really colleges about I. I used to be frustrated with this. When I taught for many years Dartmouth College and I was the undergraduate adviser in my department and I would ask students. Why did you come to Dartmouth and they'd say well you have a London study abroad program in your junior year and and I'd say please tell me that you didn't organize a quarter million dollars of education around ten weeks in London. You know two years into your education and the kids who kind of shrug and go well it kind of what I wanNA. Do you can't. You can't really be surprised if you know few years later. Kids are kind of shrugging and saying I'm not sure why did this by this is partly because children are now in control of this process more than they ought to be. I think stories about education. We'll just have to do a follow up because we're already have minutes over and I feel I don't want to like you know. Take advantage of your time the man that's this is fascinating stuff Tom. Where can I R- listeners go to learn from and with you they can find me on twitter at radio. Free Tom. All All one word and obviously they can find the book in paperback now on Amazon or any other place and and I write regularly at USA Today in the Washington Post and the Atlantic and few other places so if they go searching around the Internet they can find me there all right becky. Let's it's close up shop. Would you learn I had a ton of takeaways and one of them like we talked about at the beginning was around that idea of bias so much of our cognitive processing is done when we're on autopilot and I think it has to be that way to save energy. There's nothing we can do about that. Fact that these biases exist but we can make ourselves more aware of it one of our previous guests. Dan Willingham has another really interesting book that we didn't really talk to him about but it's called. When can we trust the experts and in the beginning he's got a whole chapter about which ideas are more believable and memorable to us so for example like familiar ideas are more believable. We believe things that other people believe we believe attractive people we believe people who are like us and he he also says source information is more fragile than content information so like for example. I remember something but not who I heard it from like. Someone told me that was a good restaurant but do I trust that person's taste. I don't remember who told me so. I don't know anyways all these are conclusions from deep and replicable psychological research and none of us are immune. There's a cool quote. I love from David Rock who runs the neural leadership institute and he says if you have a brain you're biased especially I think in the work of molding other people's minds as in charge indication Russian this is one of the hardest things to do but I think we have to be ready to push ourselves and our ego and our assumptions to the side and open our minds so the knowledge of experts not take things blindly finally. I'm not saying that at all we are also experts in some things but we cannot be experts in everything and like my sister loves to say you have twenty lifetimes and not know all there is to know about the field field of education so it next time when brings something to you that you viscerally disagree but that's based in research or practice has been heavily peer reviewed. I reflect on why you're having that reaction examiner assumptions and biases because we all have them and then let's practice engaging in productive respectful debates. I need a lot of practice with that so I can try doing that on air sometime. Maybe been debate. Let's do it. I debate becky honestly if we debated. I'd have to half my brain behind my back just to make are you ready. Yeah I totally agree with all your takeaways and I think mine my struggle is I think we we want students to feel empowered. A lot of times empowerment involves a leading students drive the learning into how can we still be the experts and empower our learners and so that's what I'm trying to find answers to think about and I also want grapple with the dunning Kruger and try to figure out in what areas I'm an expert in which areas should I back down in that's awesome but and they like you know we're all in this together and how we can approach these conversations and especially in which ways we may be proven wrong that can say a lot. What about us as people so. I love what you said. I L- Nichols said this was an awesome episode listeners. Thank you so much for listening. If you like what you heard please share it with the friends and have a great generic time of day.