HOW You Learn Is More Important Than WHAT You LearnFriday, September 16, 2016
HOW You Learn Is More Important Than WHAT You Learn
A Personal Message
We start learning from the moment we’re born. At this age, it is mostly instinctive, where we learn to walk; then comes the structured learning through play at Pre-School, where we learn to socialise; followed by structured learning at school, where we learn pre-determined facts; after that may come further education with apprenticeships or universities, where we learn to focus previous learning on a specialist subject that will generally bring the opportunity of employment. We then start work & after a few years we rely on the ‘university of life’ to get us through & learn life lessons as we go along.
From a very early age, we develop a preference for the way we learn. Some of us prefer to learn by listening; some by seeing; some by feeling. Most have a combination of two or all three, with one being the preferred way. We have little choice over our preference – it’s in our DNA. For those with a dominant preference it is essential to recognise this & work with it to maximise the learning experience & get as much out of learning (both educationally & personally) as we can.
One of the most popular ways of discovering your learning preference is with the VAK test. A series of questions designed to extract the answers that will determine your preference. Your answers will put you in the general boxes below;
- Visual preference (learn best by seeing; reading, watching videos or demonstrations)
- Auditory (learn best by listening; talking books, conversation, discussion)
- Kinaesthetic (learn best by sensing; feeling, touching etc.)
When I was at school, there was a part of the maths lesson that involved a book of logarithms . Simply put, it was a method of applying numerical logarithms to calculate mathematical problems. I managed to grasp the basic concept, but was concerned that I would have to carry the tattered booklet round with me for the rest of my life in case I came across a problem that could be solved mathematically. How shallow of me to be thinking of my street cred. instead of my ability to help my fellow man out of a difficult situation! As it turned out, calculators & computers made logarithm books defunct & there brings on a whole new set of IT skills for me to learn & agonise over.
If my Maths teacher only knew what I know now! He (they were all male) would have been able to help me so much more. I might even have passed my GCSE (they were O’levels in my time) if he’d only have recognised that I need to ‘feel’ the numbers/equations/formulae then I could be somewhere completely different by now (no regrets at all, in case you’re wondering). You may ask ‘How can you feel numbers?’ I connected emotionally with numbers when my first child was a baby. I didn’t want him to know his Mother was ‘thick’ so I went to night school, studied during his nap time & passed my GCSE in maths. I felt I owed it to him to be ableto reach the standard level of education expected of the Mother of a genius – of course I had high expectations for him & he hasn’t let me down. That way, I became emotionally attached to numbers & really enjoyed the learning process. Passing the exam was a sheer delight & we celebrated with a Teddy Bear’s picnic in the park.
When you’re in the education system, it’s difficult for the process to cater for or adapt lessons to those with dominant learning preferences. There is help for those pupils with Learning Difficulties as these are recognised conditions & I know of many parents who have struggled to get help at schools. Learning preferences are not included in the teaching process & the standard approach of ‘One size fits all’ is adopted as the norm. Still, ‘Every day is a school day’ & so the older & wiser we get we can learn something new or approach a skill from a new perspective if we know HOW we (as an individual) learn , rather than WHAT we learn.
Make a serious attempt at learning a new skill or improving on a lapsed skill. It can be work based, sport based, home based or recreational based. Me? I’m about to start knitting a Christmas stocking. Great emotional attachment to this task. Haven’t picked up a set of knitting needles & wool for years.
If you would like to know what your learning preference is, drop me a line & I can send you the VAK questionnaire.