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Learning Styles--Real or Unreal?

Bruce Deitrick Price Founder, Improve-Education.org

Learning styles? Something that didn’t even exist 25 years ago now seems to be a fixed part of American education. Do you ever suspect that maybe we’ve let this thing go too far?

Teachers have to waste a lot of time trying to make what they are doing conform to the alleged differences in students. I suspect the kids are a lot more alike than not.

I may get myself in trouble with some teachers but I’ve just written an article that challenges the importance of learning styles. The article starts from the fact that “reading readiness” was invented 50 years ago to hide the failure of Whole Word or Look-Say. When children couldn’t learn to read using this bogus technique, the schools would say, “Sorry, your child lacks reading readiness.” Some kids had it; some didn't. This supposed lack gave the schools an excuse for not doing a good job. So-called diverse learning styles are used the same way.

For more discussion of "learning styles," please see "51: Learning Styles” on Improve-Education.org ( www.improve-education.org/id77.html )

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Learning Styles Theory

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The is no evidence to support a scientific learning styles theory. There is no research that definitively proves that some brains perform better at processing information when it is in a "preferred modality." This is not to say that different people don't have a favored format for handling information. I'm a writer. My wife is an artist. I was helping her with a project where she had to illustrate a song. We listened to the song. I generated a list of words and phrases from the song, she had a series of quick sketches. Does this prove that she's a visual learner and I'm not? No, it merely demonstrates that she is more comfortable handling visual information, and I'm more comfortable with words - perhaps because my drawing skills are weak. If she's a visual learner wouldn't this theory state that when we go grocery shopping she would generate a list comprised of images of the items we need to buy, rather than a list of words? But she doesn't. I don't know anyone that does, even those that may label themselves "visual learners". Biases towards particular modes of representing information is hardly evidence of a neurological condition dictating modes of presenting information.

for more on this I'd suggest a quick google search on Dan Willingham and learning styles.
This video is a great place to start: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIv9rz2NTUk

In the world the parent-child relationship is one of the longest lasting so

There is many of the above

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There is many of the above are views of intelligence. They are all popular at the moment. Added to this list could be Sternberg's work on suspicion and super brainpower, Handy on practical intelligence. The point is that each of the above is completely false because they make dreamlike distinction in the ways that people study. The authority of many popular styles is that they allow the general public to let go of IQ and other character test which are intensely engrained in our civilization. When I was in college, I used a tape recorder to tape lectures, and sometimes I read my notes into it. I listened while driving, and doing other things around the house. But when I tried to play them while I slept, it didn't help at all.

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