I recently came across this Tweet:
What Type of Learner Are You? (And Why It Doesn ‘t Matter)goo.gl/wBK1U
— Carole (@Just_Education) June 27, 2012
Do you wonder if mastering student learning styles will help you be a better teacher?
Main conclusion from the Tweeted article: Learning styles are not scientific fact. Teachers who try to teach toward student learning styles don’t seem to produce any better results than those who do not pay attention to learning style.
So, Do Learning Styles Matter?
I have been a teacher for 13 years, and in that time I can say that I have not paid much attention to learning styles. Two reasons for this:
Ignorance. As a beginner teacher, I had never heard of learning styles. I only started to meet them as I read and gained more experience. But for the first five or so years, NADA.
Being frozen. You have a room filled with 5 busy company executives. Three of them are strong visual learners. The fourth one, the company’s accountant, is a strong logical or rules based learner. (He’s ALWAYS pestering you for rules about grammar and why words are pronounced the way they are, etc. ) The fifth student loves to handle things and move around the room to EXPERIENCE what she is learning.
What are you supposed to do with that?
How can you serve up a lesson to the visual learners, and keep the rules and tactile people happy? You’ll literally blow a gasket if you try. (And cleaning up gasket parts is messy business.)
My Conclusion: Learning Styles are helpful, but should not be your focus.
How to Teach Anything To Anybody.
Build and Create Engagement. Try not worrying so much about learning style. Instead, think about capturing attention with how you present material. Here are a three ideas to help you get started:
Use FUN and LAUGHTER.
FUN and LAUGHTER = engaging. Boring = disengaging. You know this is true, because you’ve experienced it.
Have you ever seen somebody being curious about something? Look carefully! Don’t they seem totally engaged with the process of discovery? If you have young kids, or if you can find some kids, watch them as they try or notice something for the first time. PURE engagement!
How can you design your next lesson to create that kind of curiosity about your subject matter? It can be done. And it can be done for ANY subject matter you teach. You just have to invest time in the planning.
Use the Unexpected.
The brain loves being on the lookout for the unusual or unexpected. (Think: survival skills like avoiding lions and tigers hiding in the bushes, to borrow imagery from Sierra.)
Smart teachers use the unexpected to present their topics, and your student’s brains LOVE it. Again, all it takes is planning to come up with an unusual way to present what you have to teach.
Over to you: Do learning styles matter? And how would you go about capturing your student’s attention?