What?! Are you kidding me? If there’s no such thing as learning styles I may as well drop my whole thesis project and go get a real job! This theory is discussed in Daniel Willingham book Why don’t Students Like School? I discovered his book online which led me to Daniel’s website full of links to numerous interviews he’s done including one on The Psyc Files:
If I were to meet David I’d say “now wait a sec, I was painfully bored and stressed in school because rote learning simply didn’t work for me and the instructors were terribly uncreative. This led to my poor marks and lack of confidence. I needed to be stimulated with innovative, enthusiastic and personal teaching methods.” …To which David would reply “there’s no evidence that you would have done any better if you were taught in any other method than how it was done.”
Do you buy it?
For David, we need to differentiate between learning style and learning ability. There are many styles through which we can learn but our learning ability is what varies from person to person. I might be more able to learn math than someone else but the style in which I learn math will not effect my ability to learn it… at least there is, once again, no evidence for this. This is not to say that teaching methods should not be varied according the content being learned, apparently. Some topics are more easily explained using different methods/styles of explanation (be it tactile or written, for example).
David feels that the pervasive belief that teachers have–which is that their students need to be accommodated to a degree based on their learning styles–is an unfortunate myth, with scientific proof to back it up.
Well, I’d like to see the testing conditions that led to this conviction! Depending on the situation I might be able to answer questions on a test just as well as the next person but the learning process I’ve been through to understand the concepts I’m being tested on may have been painfully boring.Why should any student have to be bored learning?
Call it what you will but if teachers don’t spice it up a little and be the academic performers they signed up to be, they are always going to lose some if not all of their audience.
Other references in this podcast include: E.D. Hirsch, author of “Cultural Literacy” whose theories on how students can become better readers David agrees with, and Howard Gardner’s theories of multiple intelligence which relates to theories of ability.