How do we learn?

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2016/feb/24/four-neuromyths-still-prevalent-in-schools-debunked

The above article has challenged a train of thought that was at its height towards the end of the nineties. It became very important to realise that pupils learn in different ways, Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. I remember having to plan by using VAK and identifying the specific teaching style that I was going to use. Basically the article states,

This myth states that students will learn more if they are taught in a way that matches their preferred style.”

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I discovered this image on the web, no name was attached, but it effectively describes what I was taught about visual learners.
Basically a visual learner would make annotated notes and respond when being taught by using a graph, cartoon, diagram etc. Concept cartoons was an excellent means of introducing a Science experiment but was it because of the visual aspect or simply the fact it was an interesting and exciting means of beginning a lesson.

 

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Concept cartoons is a wonderful resource for Science. I have included the above for all readers that are not familiar with the resource.

It was believed that visual learners tended to sit closer to the front of a class. I have often considered myself to be a visual learner, primarily because I would change notes into annotated diagrams or for want of a better word

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, doodles.

I have to admit, when I see a simple diagram I can or I perceive myself not only learning but retaining more of the information. However, when I was a student, the initial learning was auditory. You learnt what you were told in class and perhaps I turned the auditory information into visual aids for my own personal use.

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This is how I often felt during a lecture at University and I would often record the lectures in order to listen to them again but this time to transfer the information into annotated notes that made sense. Can we therefore claim that actually I respond to both auditory and visual teaching techniques. One thing I truly believe is that pupils can’t be sat on the carpet for too long (5-10 minutes at most) when you introduce a new concept. They will switch off and restlessness begins. I prefer making sure that pupils understand as they begin and develop a task, bringing pupils back to the focal point of the lesson and sharing work that demonstrates a good or excellent perception and use of the success criteria.

I definitely don’t hold all information the first time that I hear it but this is often the means to identify an auditory learner. I’m sure we have all had the experience of falling asleep in lectures and I often found that my concentration was aided by a variety in the tone of voice and I often use this technique when teaching.

I am definitely not reliant on having to do something in order to understand better, my lack of DIY skills are testament to this.  However, in the classroom I think that many learners find it difficult to stay on task for too long and require the opportunity to move. In teaching the Tables, I will always involve an element of rote learning with movement e.g. for the two times table I would tap the head for zero, shoulder for 2, stomach for 4, hips for 6 and knees for 8. This was then repeated in accordance to the unit, 10 – head, 12 – shoulder and so on. This is definitely the best way that I have taught and still teach the times table.

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The above Poster came from Pinterest and neatly explains the common perception relating to kinesthetic learners. As a doodler, I use a kinesthetic technique to create a visual diagram for myself.

On researching for more information on the web I came across this video on YouTube,

I hope the link works because it effectively demonstrates the learning techniques in a few minutes.

To return to the original article, is VAK a myth?

I’m not a neuroscientist or a psychologist therefore I don’t feel qualified to state whether the article is incorrect but as a teacher, perhaps if we reconsider learning techniques for teaching techniques then I actually believe that a good lesson involves all three techniques and that the best lessons engage pupils by making sure that each technique has a significant role to play e.g. In a lesson that I observed, the teacher had prepared a Geography task by beginning with a video of an actress that needed help, the pupils were then presented with developing a success criteria and during the lesson they were encouraged to walk around, share ideas and to take notes. In many of the best lessons that I have observed, the greatest success has often been when all three teaching techniques are employed.

I believe that understanding VAK as a teacher has developed my teaching skills but as to whether it relates to learning styles, I believe that more qualified people than myself will have to tackle that debate.

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2 Comments

  1. Research employed prior and during creating educational concepts led me to adopt the multi-platform approach, that fits into the equation in a sense. Print, electronic and audio books, along with apps that offer highlighted text, narration and a degree of interactivity offer chosen alternatives that support learning in different ways.

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