November 4, 2016

Learning Styles

Cameron Tarrh

At times throughout my life, I have been known to be really hard on myself. When I saw certain things come easy for some but were hard for me, it was not uncommon for me to think the problem was my fault. But then I started learning about learning styles and how each person has a different way they learn best.

Sometimes people can be a little skeptical of things like this, thinking that there is one best way for everyone to learn, and if that person does not learn through that one method, then they are not as smart or intelligent as the rest. I can understand this way of thinking, I really can…but…what these people end up doing is thinking that the way they learn best is the way everyone learns best. They end up teaching their own learning style when not one learning style is better than any other style.

This is not to say that kids and students should not stretch themselves or that they are not responsible for learning what their teachers are trying to teach if their learning style is not being incorporated; but it does mean that if we understand our own learning styles and and the styles of others, it can help us and our students not be too hard on themselves or beat themselves up when things don’t come as easy to them. For example, one student may have a very difficult time memorizing Scripture while others thrive at it. No matter how hard he or she tries to memorize, it does not come easy for them. When they look around at the other kids, it may be easy to think that they are smart and he or she is not. But that is the furthest thing from the truth because chances are, they may thrive at something else that may be more difficult for those who can memorize well.

So why I am I writing about this today? And what does this have to do with Scripture? Well, when we read Psalm 139, it is clear that every human being is made uniquely. They are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God and no two people are “wired” exactly the same. Psalm 33 also says, “from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth – he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” (v. 14-15). God has designed each one of us to have the personalities and learning styles that we have for a reason. He wants to use each and every one of us the way He made us to be. Take some time to think about your own learning style and also consider the learning styles of the kids you teach from week to week. I have written some brief descriptions below from a book called, Learning Styles: Reaching Everyone God Gave You to Teach by Marlene D. Lefever.

Imaginative Learners

  • Talk in broad overview
  • learn by listening and sharing ideas
  • answer the questions “why?” “why not?”
  • are sociable, friendly, sensitive
  • keenly observe human nature
  • idea people

Analytic Learners

  • Like info presented logically and sequentially
  • value facts, figures, and the theoretical
  • debate to logically prove the correct stance or answer
  • value smart and wise people
  • curious about ideas
  • value being right

Common Sense Learners

  • move during the learning process
  • value action and “how-to”
  • realistic and practical
  • goal-oriented
  • see skills as knowledge
  • prefer to work alone

Dynamic Learners

  • lead
  • experimental attitudes and behaviors
  • take a long time to complete a task
  • want to do anything that is different or breaks the mold
  • enjoy people
  • enjoy dramatics, or any art form that allows them to assert individuality