What Is Your Learning Style?


          Why are we taking on education? What the hell does this have to do with relationships? Why the hostility? Easy. Kids are going back to school as you read this and as parents and human beings, learning is a universal topic. Your ability to learn, education and understanding are all of utmost importance in creating and maintaining relationships. But, we are all different and in education, as in life, one size does not fit all.

          Lee says: Everybody has heard these phrases: ‘Every Good Boy Does Fine’, ‘Roy G Biv’. We use mnemonics because ‘Kids prefer cheese over fried green spinach’ is an easier way to learn biological taxonomy rather than memorizing kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. These are memory devices that we all have employed at one point in our education.

          As a psychology major back at Loyola Marymount, I took a class called Learning and Memory. This class, like many others, has stuck with me. It taught me that there is a method to the madness. A reason why some things stick and others do not. For example, have you noticed the things you recall from your past? Do you remember the regular, routine days? No. We don’t cement ordinary days into our memories. We recall days of significance. Days where we had an emotional reaction, like joy or fear, are etched in our mind right down to the clothes we were wearing and the music on the radio. This is semantic processing. When we attribute meaning to the meaningless, we will remember it. Can you see how this can help you or your kids study for exams?

          A rather imperative part of theory that should be required by all students is finding out what your learning style is. I am sure some of you believe that learning styles are similar to understanding your astrological sign. It’s true that knowing your learning style means nothing but if you apply it, you will see positive results. There are many learning styles and we tend to use most of them but rely heavily on one. The following are based on Fleming’s VARK model (there are lots of other ones but this is the one most of us have seen):

          Visual-seeing – People with a visual learning style tend to see pictures when accessing memories. These people can visualize the board or their notes when being tested. They say things like ‘If I see it I can remember’.

          Aural- hearing – People with an aural learning style need to hear things. They can almost record a conversation or lecture. They benefit from repeating things out loud to recall them.

          Reading/Writing – People with this learning style need to see the words. This style can be confused with visual but it is strongly based on the word in print. (Note: I am not totally convinced of this one).

          Kinesthetic – doing – People with this learning style need to move or create a tactile, physical manifestation of what they are learning. These people learn through active exploration, experimentation and movement.

          In my case, I am a visual, aural, kinesthetic learner. When I can combine all three I am golden. A perfect example of this was when I would cram for exams in college (including Learning with Dr. Swenson). I would get a board and write out the salient points that needed to be recalled. I would put them up in my study room and, with some music playing, I would stare at that board, read it out loud and dance around the room. I would take that board to school and share it with friends who would read it also and I could hear them.

          Regardless of your style, knowing this information is like having a cheat code to your own education. I strongly recommend you take a minute and find out what your style is and if you can, your child’s as well. It will make a difference in how you educate yourself and it will allow you to help your child in a more effective manner. You can keep trying to stick a square peg in a round hole but wouldn’t it be easier if you did it the easy way

          Paul says: since it took me ten years to complete my Bachelors, I would say that my learning style is slow repetition.

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