Monday, September 05, 2011

Learning styles may be overrated

Ok FYI, studies like this are not new.  And while NPR’s story about “learning styles” has sparked the discussion of audio/ visual/tactile learners to a new level, much of it is hype by people that like to make kids feel real good.

I’ve always had a problem with the idea that all kids somehow learn differently.  In fact, I’d go so far to say that the learning styles issue came about more as a crux for children that happened to not like their teacher and were too lazy to sit and focus.  “Oh, you can’t simply instruct my kid for ten minutes.  He’s a learner by touch.”  “My child is not a visual learner.  You need to get him an audio book or a recording of the book.”  Uh huh.  And have we investigated the real reason why his reading skills are down, like pulling your kid’s ass away from World of Warcraft?  In my own reflection on my favorite teachers, I found that all of them had different teaching styles that had one thing in common; they were damn good teachers. 

This is not to say that I don’t think that varied learning styles shouldn’t be used in the classroom.  Mixing it up gets students interested, introduces them to new ways to addressing problems and finding solutions, and promotes higher levels of thinking.  Variety is not only the spice of life, it is the sign of a good learning environment.   

the idea that every kid needs a learning style tailored to meet their every need is not practical and does little to prepare students for a world that could care about learning styles.  I can’t say that I’m sad that this convenient excuse is finally getting some legitimate detractors.   

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