Learning Styles

The idea of learning styles is dismissed by educational psychologists because they cannot find a brain mechanism to explain it. It has also been brought into disrepute by educators promoting the idea we should present information to children in their preferred learning style, whereas the correct approach is to try to develop children’s abilities to learn through different styles that they find less amenable.

It only needs observation of oneself and colleagues to show that people’s brains grasp information differently. A colleague required to be moving to concentrate properly on phone calls. He would get up and stride around the office whenever a call came in. My brain needs to see concepts visually on a single piece of paper. I have lost count of the number of times my scribbled diagram of a concept under discussion was requested by colleagues at the end of the meeting, who also found it helpful. I know people who cannot easily absorb written or drawn information, who need it to be explained to them aurally.

The denial of learning styles is very damaging for teachers, as it removes the need to analyse teaching plans against the different ways of presenting information, and reduces their understanding of what children are good at and their deficiencies.

It is an arrogance of academics that is all too common, to deny the existence of phenomena they cannot find an explanation for, instead of keeping an open mind and continuing to look for mechanisms.