Thursday, April 3, 2014

The things that make me different are the things that make ME. - Winnie the Pooh

Just recently my step granddaughter, Noelle, asked me questions about learning styles for a research paper she's doing.  Little did she know I'd get going and never shut up!

I think it's trendy these days to find labels for everything, including labels for how kids learn.  It's kind of like "tidying" up the pantry so we know what we have in there: auditory, visual, tactile, social, verbal, logical, etc. etc.  Trouble is,  kids - all of us - are rarely one and only one "style," but rather a very unique combination of all.  Good teachers from the beginning of time have recognized that we all learn differently.  They didn't need the labels. 

As a special ed teacher I loved trying to figure kids out and adapt materials to find the right trigger or twist to get their "motors running" as I used to say.  And every once in awhile I got lucky!  But what I had to learn myself - over and over again - is that kids don't learn until they're ready. Teachers can know their learning styles and help create a readiness to learn in their classrooms, but kids have to bring in the rest. 

Phew - makes it sound impossible, right?  I had a great chemistry teacher in high school, Mr. Clyde Skogan.  He knew I was clueless (still am) about the need for understanding chemistry.  Each day after his opening lecture and while others were setting up lab experiments, he quietly explained to me the 2 or 3 main points I had to remember just to pass the class.  He wasn't talking "down" to me but finding language I could relate to.  Perfect example of accomodating a learning style.  In this case, my readiness wasn't really wanting to learn but definitely wanting to graduate!

Be well today and always, 

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