The “Law of the instrument”

From experience to meaning...

In 1966 Abraham Maslow said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”, this has become known as the “Law of the instrument“, maybe the least discussed law when talking about education, but imho the most important to warn for in educational discussions.

Not that we only have hammers in education, no, it’s sheer impossible to grasp the almost infinite possibilities, but many people do have their favorite tool.

Some examples:

  • How many times do you read: this tool will change everything in education? We know that it won’t, but most of the time the person expressing this is really convinced of his hammer.
  • In a similar vein let’s teach all children how to code. Most of the time this is said by people who are really convinced of his or her…

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