And another thing …

http://californiacereal.com/about-us/feed Last time I wrote about the concept of learning styles and how there is no research evidence to suggest that they exist. I did mention, however, that some students may prefer to learn in a certain style – either through images (visual), or through words (auditory) or through movement (kinaesthetic). As I said, there is no evidence that students learn better in any of these ways, but the fact that they may prefer to can be useful for some children.

http://ashflowboards.com/product-category/boards/?product_orderby=default If, for example, a child prefers drawing to writing, it may be a good strategy for a parent or teacher to start the child off on any given topic by asking them to draw what they know about it. The important thing is to move them on into writing once their interest in the topic has been aroused. This is referred to by teachers as using the child’s preferred mode of learning as an entry point into learning. A highly respected colleague describes this approach as the student “drawing her way into writing.” The critical thing is to move the child into writing (or whatever other mode is required by the teacher) because actual learning takes precedence over learning preference. By not moving the child on, the adult may may unintentionally cause long-term repercussions for the child’s educational achievement and even her social mobility.

There are two other current misunderstandings about learning that I’d like to write about briefly. The first is the idea that today’s children and young adults can multi-task. All parents know about this. They watch their children doing several things at once – for example typing their homework, listening to music, and messaging their friends – and wonder how they can manage to do this. I’m sorry to say that they can’t! Research evidence suggests that the human brain can deal with only one thing at a time. So the children you see ‘multi-tasking’ are actually switching between different tasks, not doing them simultaneously. Additionally, although my evidence for this is only anecdotal based on sometimes sitting among youngsters when I work in my local library, I’m sorry to tell you that the task that suffers most is the homework – not the music or the text messages!

The other contemporary idea is that youngsters do not need to memorize facts, figures formulae because all this information is readily available on the internet. Unfortunately, this is not true. Knowledge stored in the brain is the raw material for higher level thinking. Those teachers who do not insist that their students engage in some old-fashioned memorization and that they practice basic skills such as multiplication are unknowingly depriving them of the ability to think at deeper levels, both critical and creative.

If you’d like to find out more about all this, I highly recommend an authoritative but readable book entitled “Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn” by John Hattie and Gregory Yates. It’s written in short chapters that get straight to the point, so you can dip in and out of the book to read whatever most interests you.

Thank you.

Next time: Three ideas for parents to think about.

 

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