Eliminating the 'dunce' : challenging a teaching myth

McKenzie-Mavinga, Isha (2008) Eliminating the 'dunce' : challenging a teaching myth. Investigations in university teaching and learning, 5 (1). pp. 13-16. ISSN 1740-5106


This paper explores the idea that given the right circumstances anyone can learn. Historically in child education the label 'Dunce' was applied to students who did not conform or who had difficulty learning. The term ‘Dunce’ was derived from John Duns Scotus (1256/66-1308), a master philosopher from Scotland. His ideas about cognition and existence were popular in late medieval Europe until the Humanist reform of the Renaissance (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2001/7). During that period his ideas were rejected. His followers, the 'Dunsmen', rallied against the attack on his work and were consequently regarded as idiots. It is therefore not difficult to see how the notion of the 'Dunce' became associated with diversity. For the purpose of this paper I shall use the term 'Dunce myth' to indicate negative attitudes towards learners' experience of failure.

InvestigationsInUniversityTeachingAndLearning_v5n1_p13-16.pdf - Published Version

Download (59kB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

View Item View Item