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Learning Styles Debunked?

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Joe Hubbard:
Are you a verbal learner or a visual learner? Chances are, you've pegged yourself or your children as either one or the other and rely on study techniques that suit your individual learning needs. And you're not alone— for more than 30 years, the notion that teaching methods should match a student's particular learning style has exerted a powerful influence on education. [read full story]:


Kelly Knight:

Thanks for the link. Vital to all MA instructors, I think. I remember reading that article a while back, late '08 maybe? After reading it, I did some other research on the subject and here is one of the bookmarks (from early '10) that I still have:

...on debunking the debunkers. Interesting stuff and well worth a gander if it pertains to other SFCers!

I have yet to meet another MA instructor that teaches in one style only. I certainly make it a point to incorporate every style that I possibly can. Ain't that the beauty of MA and another reason that MA is such a powerful tool.

Another selling point to potential students!

Thanks again.

Kelly Knight

Joe Hubbard:
I don’t think that article has much credibility.  It is a biased account from a teacher who has faith in the different learning styles system.  The whole “learning styles” approach seems to make sense on the surface (I must admit I have fallen for and/or put way too much emphasis on learning styles in the past), but I am beginning to believe it is not the holy-grail that many modern day educators peddle these days.

Every time I have seen Hock teach he has controlled his audience from beginning to end by presenting facts.  Most people absorb factual information relatively in the same way.  That’s why the majority of the traditional education system has worked for so long.  I am beginning to believe that maybe these “learning styles” are more suitable in getting people interested in putting in the required time to get good at something.  After 30 years of teaching I definitely “know” one thing- if someone puts in the required time, they can be as good as anybody.  For some people though, the amount of time needed to become good may be more than they are willing to give.  In that case they should really be doing something else.

Any thoughts?


Kelly Knight:
Mr. Hubbard,

I concur wholeheartedly that time and repetition result in ...results!

And I think you're touching on an age-old argument regarding MA instructors who have seen "combat" versus ones that haven't.

In the case of this topic, on one side you have a scientific group. On the other you have an experienced teacher. Each have their own agenda and each have their own experiences to pull from.

Who is right? Is there a right? There isn't to me. The important thing is that we, as MA instructors, acknowledge that some people learn by feeling/touch. Some learn by seeing the material being demonstrated in person or in some sort of media presentation (books/video/etc.). Some must hear information to make any sense of what's being discussed.

The truth is that as human beings, we receive information in many different ways..."learning styles"! Not just one.

An example of poor teaching would be a PowerPoint presentation to a group of blind students or audio tapes teaching to the deaf. You wouldn't do that in your classes and neither would I! But some folks do, just in a more subtle fashion.

For example, I once went to a seminar once where the instructor was so softly spoken that everyone spent the entire time trying to figure out what the hell he was saying. It was distracting and ridiculous. Another seminar, the instructor was so loud that it was equally distracting. And how many seminars have you been to where there was just too much talking? Me too! I just wanna try it! How about instructors who spend an age teaching the topic, then yell at you that you're doing it wrong after you've tried it (unsuccessfully) exactly once?!? Sheesh, that's some bad teaching going on there! Maybe his ongoing group of students can learn that way, but I can't. I need to practice and play with something for a while.

This issue is even more important with children. They are still forming in all ways, so it's important to teach them using every learning style possible. Tactile, auditory, visual.

Having said all of that, I thoroughly enjoy not saying a word for an entire class. I do so at least once a month in all of my classes, with adults and children. It's refreshing, frankly. To deprive ourselves of one or more of the senses/learning styles is enlightening and fun for me as an instructor! Alternatively, I turn off all of the lights and we train in pitch black. This is fun and "mixes things up."

So, to me, "learning styles" are all about the senses and the engagement or disengagement of them. It should be a natural process that is fluid and situational to the individuals present. There is no best way, clearly. You can't force one or the other on anybody - that would be counterproductive.

Should you trust a teacher or a group of scientists? Neither! It's interesting what both sides are presenting.

No, the important thing about this thread is that the process of constant, ever-evolving self-evaluation for MA instructors is vital, in my opinion. We must never stop caring about how we are presenting information to our students. Ever. Quality control is job number one!

How many instructors have you come across that are stuck where they are as teachers and individuals? I'll bet you can come up with a ready list. I can too. It's the ones that aren't that I'm drawn to. And those are the ones to emulate...

Thanks for your response! Good points, all. Newbie instructors should pay attention to this stuff - this is some deep stuff about being the best MA instructor possible.

Kelly Knight

Good points- one thing- old timer instructors should review this also.Some are stuck in one particular way and do not see how other styles can fit in.


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