Humans are capable of acquiring knowledge. Some grasp more concepts, ideas, knowledge and skills than others and each of us learns differently, via various methods.
So what is a learning style?
Most of would understand that learning consists of watching, listening and physically practising. Learning something can involve one, two, or all three of these methods.
We can watch by reading and absorb new facts from a book or a video. We can also learn new things by listening to a teacher or to a CD or the radio.
We can learn to juggle by watching, listening and then putting the techniques into practice. One person might not need much instruction or practice to become proficient, while others may need more time on one or more of the different aspects. After all, every one of us can learn only at our maximum speed, and we are all different.
Seven learning styles
The conventional wisdom among education experts is that these three methods can be broken down into seven different learning styles.
- Visual: where a person learns from looking at and studying pictures, diagrams, colors, and mind maps.
- Aural: where a person listens and learns rhythms, music, lyrics, poetry and rhymes.
- Physical: where a person uses his/her body and perhaps a physical object to assist in their learning.
- Verbal: where a person learns by recital.
- Logical: where a person uses logic and established formulae to uncover a solution to a problem or a trick.
The final two on the list involve situations rather than use of a particular style.
- Social: where a person interacts with other people and learns from working with others.
- Solitary: where a person learns alone without the distraction of other people.
Our eyes and ears are important senses in learning, but what about the other senses?
Touch? An animal or an infant will soon learn by touching a hot or extremely cold object that it might be wise to avoid doing so again.
Taste? I’m sure we all learn from tasting different foods and that guides our future choices of eating and drinking.
Smell? Any expert wine-taster will tell you that he or she will know a wine and its age and origins by nosing it and that the subsequent taste merely backs up the assumption. Of all the senses, smell seems to have the longest memory. For my part, every so often I will sniff something that makes me recall a particular (but not necessarily special) moment of my childhood. Plastic book covers and rum are two that can in some cases take me back instantly.
Each of us employs a combination of learning styles and some work better than others. The trick is finding out what works best for you in any situation. How are you going to study for that next test? Or what will you do to prepare for a challenging hurdles race?
The good news is that we humans, at least, have a number of arrows in our learning quiver, and by using them all, we can expand our capacity to learn. More learning usually eventuates in more earning.
Learning should be a lifelong experience.
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