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The Myth of Learning Style

Neil Fleming’s “VARK” model, in which he splits learners into categories based on learning style of Visual, Aural, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic, has caused quite a controversy.

Critics say it’s impossible to classify learners this way and you shouldn’t change your teaching according to the type of learner you think you have.  And yet, it’s helpful to understand the various ways the brain absorbs new information.

Where does this leave us? Brain experts suggest that we engage as many different parts of the brain as we can to achieve optimal learning. So, let’s revise:

“visual OR aural OR read/write OR kinesthetic”

to

“visual AND aural AND read/write AND kinesthetic”

And, while we’re at it, let’s also add STORIES and EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCES.

 

2 thoughts on “The Myth of Learning Style”

  1. Any label is dangerous because it tends to remove individuality and identity. That said, most people have preferred thinking and learning styles… the tragedy might well be that we aren’t teaching people (especially kids) how to appreciate and develop how we think and learn… and create some diversity.

    When a student tells me “I can’t learn by listening; I have to do the task myself,” I disagree with him.

    “You may prefer learning by doing, but you are capable of learning in a myriad of ways.”

    While I would concur that a good instructor “engages” the different parts of the brain, we should challenge the student to do the same!

    1. Susan Landay says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Walter. ~Sue

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