“Learning Styles” Myth

Paul Romani (M.Ed.)

In the March 2019 edition of BC Parent Magazine, there is an article titled “Your Child’s Learning Style” by Karen Johnson which promotes the debunked myth about learning and cognition.

The idea that each child has their own specific learning style and that that should be applied to all forms of learning in order to optimise learning is completely incorrect.

Using Kumon and Udemy.com as sources is part of the problem for the inaccuracies of this article, as these really are not credible sources.

Every learning situation benefits from specific learning styles based on the circumstances, e.g. learning to cook benefits from a combination of kinesthetic, visual, and auditory approaches. This would be true for all learners.

Combining these approaches benefits all learners, which is why everyone benefit from books with visuals or pictures/videos with commentary, or hands-on learning with an expert demonstration beforehand. Learning rarely ever involves one approach.

Check out the following example, which shows a student from our school partial self-teaching herself about atoms. She’s learning hands-on, she has a visual, she’s making notes, and she’s recording a video with audio. Because this topic is complex, we don’t rely on one method of learning in order for this to make sense.

This is why all teachers should use a rich variety of approaches for teaching, because these combinations – even if they aren’t applied together – benefit all of the students in the class.

To say that one student should learn a different way from another student is simply not true, and I encourage parents and teachers to check out the following texts as evidence of this. For starters, here’s a Guardian article which uses credible sources: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2016/feb/24/four-neuromyths-still-prevalent-in-schools-debunked

Recommended books:

Five Teaching and Learning Myths–Debunked : a Guide for Teachers (2018) by Adam M Brown & Althea Need Kaminske

Learning about Learning (2016) by National Council on Teacher Quality https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED570861.pdf

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