Completing a questionnaire about learning styles seems borderline irrelevant when we are geared towards creating holistic individuals, however, I was keen to find out what type of learner they thought I was. I have been reading more and more about how learning styles are detrimental. One of the reasons being, you are catering to a child’s strength not improving upon a weakness. I can see how this can be a hindrance but I found it beneficial to highlight what areas I need to work on.
There are many learning style theorists; Gunn and Gunn, VAK learning styles, Gregorc’s mind styles and Kolb. The questionnaire I took was the Honey and Mumford Learning Styles Questionnaire, influenced by Kolb’s experiential learning styles. The questionnaire has 4 basic experiential learning style outcomes; Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist. Out of 80 questions I related to 34 and these are my results
Activist = 14 Reflector = 4 Theorist = 8 Pragmatist = 8
These show that I have, according to Honey and Mumford an Activist learning style. I am in short, a do-er. My criticism’s towards this sort of questionnaire were that I found the questions very non specific and they were hard to give a definite answer to. There was only one question I answered with a whole hearted YES and that was “I prefer to respond to events on a spontaneous, flexible basis rather than plan things out in advance.” Now I know very well that I cannot and do not approach my university work like this… I’d say I utilise aspects of the 4 and want everything as perfect as I can make it. If I had answered these questions in my youth or prior to having my daughter I know my answers would be very different. So it is correct in the sense that we all have different ways we think, regarding our overall learning style, but it is not definitive of who I am or the only way I learn. If I reflect, so far, on my time at University I know I have come into contact with at least 4 different teaching styles/methods/approaches. If I didn’t have the skills to decipher those “styles” with my learning style I would be in a pickle.
Children should be seen as individuals and exposure to varying approaches and involvement within their community will hopefully shape them to be all types of learners. They will develop, change and expand their learning the more “styles” they use in their enquiries and as they grow. If a child is solely taught in one teaching style you are not creating the opportunity for praxis and collaboration of ideas. It is imparting on the children a sense of how to do things in the wider world. Take an onus for their holistic learning, not “training” them to seek out chances to use a specific style.
This appears to be a bash at learning styles, maybe my inner Activist took hold. Joking aside, compartmentalising a child is a restriction. That restriction may also apply to the teacher if learning styles are focussed on too heavily. Understanding of learning styles should be used as a primitive base for teachers to comprehend the vast responsibility that is: teaching. We are aiming for inspirational stimulation in the classroom and I believe that concentrated focus and labelling of learning styles detracts from this.