What do they mean...Preferred Learning Style

2nd January 2004 at 00:00
As we all know, the preferred learning style of most young people (and, indeed, us) is The Hard Way.

Educational psychologists, however, don't know this, and have observed that students have different ways of learning - aural, visual, practical, and so on - and they will learn most effectively using the one that suits them best.

All we have to do is identify the preferences of all our pupils and teach them accordingly. (Incidentally, why do they never talk about preferred teaching styles? I have one. I keep it in the cellar behind a loose brick.) This is, of course, something that should only be tried at home, as a kind of thought experiment.

First, divide the class into three: the listeners, the doers and the watchers. Now, say the first subject of the day is electricity.

You will talk to the listeners about electrons and the national grid; the doers will then stick their fingers in the sockets; and the watchers will watch.

Moving on to history, you will inform the listeners of the importance of edged weapons throughout the ages; you will then hand out swords and daggers to the doers; and the watchers will watch. Physics? Talk about molecules and Brownian movement, and let the doers play with the Bunsen burners.

Natural history? Discuss deciduous trees and hand out large wooden clubs; talk of sources and tributaries and point toward a fast-flowing river. And the watchers will watch.

By the end of the day, the listeners will be the informed, motivated pupils you have always dreamt of.

The watchers will be deeply traumatised and in need of counselling. And all the troublemakers in the class will be electrocuted, stabbed, gassed, clubbed and drowned (of which, be honest, you have also dreamt).

Sadly, there is a final lesson, in citizenship. Here you explain to the listeners that you are a mass murderer and the police will shortly be here to take you away.

The doers will lie on the floor and, er, provide the evidence. And the watchers? They will just smile.

timhomfray@aol.com

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