I had a lovely email sent to me today regarding an article that I had posted some time ago about learning styles.
Readers of this blog will know that I am a huge advocate for teachers teaching their children in a way that suits the needs any given child.
I will have even made comments along the lines of how a child should be taught in their own 'learning style'.
In a way I still believe this but the email that I was sent really challenged my understanding of learning styles and what that really means.
I have often heard the phrases 'Kinaesthetic Learner', 'Visual Learner' etc and given my own experiences in school and often how I learn now I would very easily use similar terms to describe the way that I am learning.In that email, I was gently challenged about my views and I am really glad that I was. Have I recently been confusing the term 'learning styles' with 'accessibility to learning'? Perhaps they are two different things but are easily confused?
When I think about my experiences of getting extremely tired if I had to consume large amounts of text for study, I know that I would feel that I could learn a lot of that content in a different way.
As an adult, I often ask YouTube how to do things in their search engines and thus find a video that could explain a way to do something. Is that a visual learning style?
But then I think of times in my education when I was doing research for a project which meant a lot to me and because I was motivated I would try to push past the tiredness in reading and researching to get to my end point. I was still learning, even if it was really challenging for me.
So maybe, what I am referring to is a learning preference or maybe it is about accessibility?
The author of my email referred me to a fascinating blog article called "Learning Styles - A Detriment to Effective Student Learning".
In this article, it states that there are as many as 71 categorised learning styles in the literature. What a job it would be for a teacher to cater for each of those styles if each child had a different learning style!
So perhaps considering learning styles as a culmination of a bunch of successful ways of learning, maybe a spectrum of learning abilities? My ability to learn through reading is severely hampered by my getting tired extremely quickly but when watching a video where I can pause, fast forward, or rewind, my learning is boosted. Both methods give me a level of learning which are not equal but perhaps makes up a learning profile, perhaps a learning style?
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What I do believe is that our teachers need to have the time and space to be able to consider what mechanisms for learning work for the children in their class and to use a range of strategies to communicate educational concepts. I also believe that they need to be open to (as well as have the budget to buy) technology that helps with learning. For some, it could be using mind maps to put together ideas (visual/non-linear learners?), or for others using software that reads out text in curriculum-based textbooks (see my blog article about a free resource that schools should be aware of - click here).
I would really like to know your thoughts?