There is no doubt in my mind that EVERYONE has the ability to learn.
We just each go about it in a different way. From Proverbs, “Teach a child according to his/her own way,” but how do you discover a learner’s “way”? I think it makes sense to think of a child’s “way” as his/her learning style.
Learning style is defined as an individual’s preferred mode of gaining knowledge. There are three basic learning styles that are most widely utilized; visual, auditory and kinesthetic. However, four additional categories are also generally accepted; social, logical, verbal and solitary. A reasonable overview can be found here.
I know that I am primarily a visual learner. How do I know this? When one of my children yells down the stairs, “Hey mom, what does I-N-S-U-R-M-O-U-N-T-A-B-L-E mean?” I will usually reply, “Come down here…I need to see it.” Similarly, when attending a lecture or a workshop, I take notes on what the presenter is saying. For me, the act of writing (kinesthetic) and then being able to see the information in front of me helps me to retain what I have learned.
We all use every learning style, but we have dominance in certain areas. As you saw above, I demonstrated a blend of two learning styles, despite first asserting my dominance as a visual learner. Further, our dominance is not fixed and can shift given the experience, and it is possible to learn or improve dominance in any given area. Despite that, being in tune to your own learning style can help you select strategies that will enable you to find success. There are a great many inventories available. I do not endorse any in particular, but know that if you Google “learning style inventory” you will come up with many options.
Finally, if you are a teacher, knowing your students’ learning styles will help you to shape lessons to meet their needs more effectively while helping students to understand their own learning styles will enable them to develop the skills of self-advocacy.
“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
~ Ignacio Estrada