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Learning and Teaching Styles

Finding the genius in all of us!

Many of us think that we are good in some things, and not as good in other things, and can feel discouraged to learn things that we find difficult to learn. It may be true that some things are naturally easier for us to understand, while others offer us more challenges, yet it is not true to assume that we are not capable of learning certain things simply because we have experienced difficulty with it on our initial attempts. It may simply be that the method used to teach the knowledge did not match our learning styles.

Jean Piaget, the renowned Swiss child psychologist who is famous for his keen insights and observations on how children learn, is best known for his theory on cognitive development. Yet another important observation that he made was that the way students achieve optimal results in school varied depending on the style in which the information was learned. He found that if you presented the information in one way, such as lecturing, then you would get a typical result where approximately two-thirds of the students received a grade in the C-range, one-fourth divided in half in the above and below average range (D and B grades), and 6 percent divided equally as failures and high achievers (F and A grades), with small numbers falling in the exceptional or genius range or simply did not score well at all and seemingly absorbed nothing. He found that if you change the way the information was delivered to the same group of students, from lecturing to drawing, for example, then you get the exact same kind of distribution. However, this time different people will fall into the different levels of achievement. What this says is that when you change the way you deliver the information different people will perform well, thereby finding new geniuses, new groups of averages, new “failures”. The only difference is how the information was taught and received.

Piaget made a very profound conclusion based on this information. Specifically, that there is a genius in every single person. All we have to do is find the method that will allow the genius to be discovered for that individual. Clearly, when you use different teaching styles such as large group, small group, video presentation, lecturing, hands-on manipulation, drawing, and kinesthetic or learning through movement, you maximize the learning for every individual.

Piaget was not the only person to speak on this subject. Another well known psychologist, Howard Gardner is well known for his theory of multiple intelligences. He found that there are at least 7 ways in which people learn information: through a verbal intelligence, a logical-mathematical intelligence, visual-spatial or intelligence of pictures and space, a musical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence where movement and bodily awareness are paramount, an interpersonal intelligence where we are keenly aware of others point of view, and finally an intrapersonal intelligence where we are introspective and self-aware. When we are able to identify the way an individual learns we are able to provide learning material and teaching methods that suit their strengths. Clearly, people learn best with a variety of methods, and the key to success is to provide a learning environment that offers a wide variety of teaching methods and teaching tools in which to impart the knowledge being taught.

For More Information Contact:

Sheila Moeck
New Heights School


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Last modified: 03-Apr-2011