Danger of trendy learning styles

28th January 2005 at 00:00
Three cheers to Frank Coffield for highlighting the lack of a clear research basis for the current obsession with learning styles ("Kinaesthetic nonsense", TES, January 14).

Whilst I agree that every student may have preferred ways of learning it is important to remember that they should gain access and develop a wide repertoire of methods, particularly as pupils may have more than one preferred style and that the identification of their best learning style can be problematic.

For teachers who may see over 500 students a week, the idea they can plan for each child's individual style is nonsense.

At our school we are taking a different approach to the issue. Our framework for teaching encourages staff to use a wide range of strategies within a structure that enables the whole class to move forward together.

Within this collaborative and inclusive system, teachers are bound to include pedagogical approaches based on visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning styles and students are exposed to a range of learning styles.

Teachers are actively encouraged to ensure they use a range of teaching approaches when planning lessons, remembering that many learning objectives intrinsically suggest a particular learning approach.

For example, it would be our view that most students would find it most effective to learn about four-figure grid references through a visual teaching approach. Is anyone seriously suggesting "auditory" learners would manage this topic better without a diagram?

The focus should not be on the child but the nature of the learning process.

Andy Buck Headteacher The Jo Richardson community school Cannington RoadDagenham, Essex

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