Much of my education in undergrad school centered around the VAKT model of instruction – visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile learners. It was stressed time and again that all learners are different and in order to really reach them all you needed to not only determine their learning style but make sure you taught to that style. The notion of determining how you learn and making sure information was presented in that manner took root in all kinds of places. Questionnaires were developed that would tell you exactly what kind of learner you were. Kenneth and Rita Dunn suggest six different aspects of intelligence, Howard Gardner presented the idea of multiple intelligences followed by Robert Sternberg who introduced analytical, creative and practical intelligences – to name a few. Research conducted by Harold Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer and Bob Bjork set out to determine if in fact teaching to identified, preferred learning styles had any true impact on learning. The answer – NO! Their study found that it was more important to match the mode of instruction to the content being taught. Oh well – now what?
It seems that many of today’s psychologists would agree on two kinds of intelligence – fluid (what you use in the moment) and crystallized (what you’ve accumulated) which together allow learning, reasoning and problem solving.
This chapter discusses the likelihood that it is not so much the learning style that influences learning but other factors as well. “Mastery…is a quest. It is not a grade on a test, something bestowed by a coach, or a quality that simply seeps into your being with old age and gray hair.” (there goes my thinking that I’m getting smarter as I age :-)!)
The authors spend the last few pages of this chapter presenting the take aways that for me boil down to one word – HEART. I have seen countless times, students succeed despite all odds – because they want to. I believe with my whole heart that no student shows up wanting to fail. Some do fail – maybe because we haven’t helped them find their heart. I’m not sure if our job is to guard against all missteps or failures – or be there to point out the learning experience moving forward – delicate balance.
Ken Robinson’s take on multiple intelligences…