Here’s my take on the whole ‘learning styles’ debate [No evidence to back idea of learning styles]
…if you believe in and understand science, you have to accept that learning styles, as framed by the research, do not exist, or at least, there is no evidence that tailoring lessons to individual learning styles is linked to improved learning…
So that said, we have to ask ourselves what is the value of the research and how can it help us be better teachers…I thought long and hard and concluded that it has very little value. First of all, I only ever thought that ‘learning styles’ were really ‘learning preferences’…we all have them, for example, I prefer to read the transcript than watch the video, that’s not the same as saying I can’t learn by watching videos. What I can say is that I have been put off learning (something) several times because the information was only presented in video.
Why should we care about learning styles? Well, why bother with air conditioning? Why bother with nice furniture? Why not stick on a grey suit and, chalk in hand, deliver the type of boring old lessons many of us endured as children…? If our students are our customers, if we are serving them, surely we should deliver lessons to them according to their learning preferences where practical…and surely that’s all we did before the research.
Another point…the research says students can learn when they are taught without regard to their learning styles and the evidence seems to support that…but as someone who works with children, I can tell you that you’d better keep them engaged, you’d better find ways to negotiate…a one size all approach isn’t going to cut it with very young learners! Anecdotal…sure, maybe that’s just my classroom! Not to mention the fact that, if you run a language centre, and those kids hate your lessons, they may choose to learn somewhere else where the teachers are a little more flexible! Bye bye 🤑
Another thing that gets lost in the debate, or seems to get confused, is teaching style! I read a teacher yesterday asking if he should drop all his games and songs; his trademark way of teaching…well should he? Maybe we can all learn in the same way, just as we could all eat exactly the same meal every day, we could all wear the same clothes and live in identical houses, have the same haircut, listen to the same music…sure, we’d all be just as alive, but what would be the fun in that? What about variety, and success and tragedy and the randomness that is the very spice of life?