Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What type of learner are you? Who cares?

This is a question you should ask yourself and then realize that your preference doesn't really matter.

Um, except we have a whole classroom of learners, right?

Remember all that stuff about visual, kinesthetic, auditory, and tactile learners? Well, apparently it's all bunk. And this is what I love about learning. We are never done. We learn one thing and then years later we're told that it was absolute crap. Great!

The bottom line is that all of us have to adapt to our learning environments. If you stick a fork in a light socket, the light socket doesn't care if you're an auditory learner, it's about to give a kinesthetic lesson you will never forget. 

On the other hand, even if you were a kinesthetic learner, there are just some things that we don't really want to experience through movement -- like electrocution.  I'm pretty sure that a nice diagram would suffice in this scenario. 

But back to the point that learning styles are no longer valid. According to the Center of Teaching at Vanderbilt University, there are more than 70 different models of learning styles and most of these are created by people who want to sell you books, videos, and software on how to accommodate these learning styles. Ha ha! 

You mean commerce is driving education? Who would have thunk it?

The research of cognitive psychologists Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, and Bjork concludes that "there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning styles assessments into general educational practice." 

So, what does this mean? What do we do now?

The esteemed doctors tell us that all of us (barring severe organic problems) have an amazing capacity to learn. Children in particular are AMAZING learners unless YOU get in their way.  And this ties very nicely with my teacher mission

BTW: According to the esteemed doctors, one strategy that works with all learners is frequent testing. Regardless of prior knowledge, students will learn what they know they'll be tested on (Pashler, H. 117).

What do you think about learning styles? Do you think instruction should tie to the preferences of the individual student?

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