What type of learner is your child?


But we can start small. As they say, change starts at home …

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After my article on education was published, I received many thoughts, comments, and since had some interesting discussions – majorly bordering on a much required change in the current education system, to have more accommodative learning systems. Honestly, there has a long way to go, but we can start small. As they say, change starts at home.

I noticed that what helped me to learn didn’t work for someone else. My elder brother learned most of his subjects on the way to his college, in the college bus, on the day of an exam. I’m not referring to the 13th-hour preparation; in his case, though his friend would explain all the concepts to him. He would listen and that would suffice his learning. In my case, it is a tad bit different – For accounting I would imagine coins moving between buckets of cash. A close friend of mine would get his coloring gears out and paint the book inside out and another one always manages a handwritten the summary book, which proved exceptionally helpful for 11th-hour preparations. This made me realise there is no one way to go about learning.

Studies apart, this had an impact on everyday things, my brother can never read fiction, ever. I can easily get into different worlds in the blink of an eye, while I can never get my hands on colors/physical artistic expression. My friend who learned by writing always had her to-do list neatly written. This made me realise that each perceive information differently, we assess, assimilate and learn based on our experience and those sensory perceptions – the VARK model as proposed by Neil Fleming – the Visual, Auditory, Read/write and Kinesthetic learners.

The visual learners learn through sight – it can be graphs, infographics, videos etc; the auditory learners predominantly learn through listening to lectures, asking someone to read out loud for them, the next set of learners through reading and writing which sometimes I feel overlaps the former two learners and the last being kinesthetic learners who have the need to be out there, feel and learn. This, however, does not mean a visual learner can never learn through hands-on experimentation, it just indicates the way one understands information better.

What is the vark model?

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Dr Gardener’s Learning Styles

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This however just half side of the coin. Why? My pondering starts with me. I was not really fond of physics but started working with my camera, and related physics seemed easy to me. Kinesthetic learner? Yes, but thinking about it, a few were very good in languages, while others are at math and logic, while a few at music and rhythms, and a few through constant interactions with others. This strife can be seen at interactions. I love to paint pictures through imagination and a logical thinker always manages to have issues with my thoughts. I wonder during those dialogues, what is wrong. Then I shrug the thought, it is the way each of us perceives the world after all!. Looking around, this is why, some can rap easily, some can understand abstracts better, some are good with numbers, while others are good with visual graphics. This was initially proposed by Dr. Howard Gardner in 1983 and there are eight such styles – linguistic learner, naturalist, musical or rhythmic learner, kinesthetic learner, visual or spatial learner, logical or mathematical learner, interpersonal learner, intrapersonal learner. As I read more, the more I understand how and what makes someone learn better.

How does knowing the type of learner help your child?

Imagine, putting all these varied learners, into one classroom, making them learn seemingly irrelevant subjects (in each ones’ perception), curbing their creativity and time that one can spend to horn the skills they are naturally talented in. Identifying these can greatly improve a child’s learning. This would solve the problem of the child not wanting to learn, and make them more curious where it actually matters. Not just learning, this has the key to understanding why the engineer/doctor culture is fading and alternative careers are popping up.

In my article on the ‘marks culture’, many came back saying the marks culture is reducing vastly. It is a good sign, but it needs to sink in faster into the mindsets of parents/guardians. Also, the types of learning styles will help them understand why a kid cannot outshine in the infinite classes they enroll their kids into. More importantly, it is not about outshining other kids, rather the child finding a path of its own, where it strives to make a difference. Why? These different types of learners are not distinct/mutually exclusive in the sense they are unique to every individual, understanding this can bring about a change in perception, and support extended.

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