Learning Styles

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Essay to discuss the importance of creating a desirable learning environment

This essay will discuss the importance of creating a desirable learning environment and the contrast of opinions people have towards them, also the relationship between theory and current educational practice. So the question is “How do we learn?” For decades, researchers and scientists have been discussing how children come to understand the world we live in and how learning occurs. Theorists such as H.Gardner, Paiget, Vygotsky and Maslow have spent years studying the adolescent brain to find out how we learn and they have all come up with different learning styles. A learning style is the way in which each learner begins to concentrate on, process and retain new and difficult information. These are various approaches or ways of learning. The idea of individualised "learning styles" originated in the 1970s, and acquired enormous popularity. Research suggests that learning styles are predetermined before the age of three or four, during which time basic architecture of the brain is established and learning styles are determined. It is also widely believed that these ‘styles’ do not usually change throughout life. Everyone has a learning style as individual as a fingerprint or signature, as a result of neural interconnection at the earliest stage of life. Theorists have identified over 80 different types of learning styles perhaps one of the most significant examples being Fleming's Visual, Audio, and Kinaesthetic styles (VAK/VARK). Fleming suggested, somebody with a preference to a Visual learning style benefits from a variety of visual stimulation. One example would be the use of colours. This type of learner likes images and written information. They like to be able to read instructions or the text on their own to increase their understanding. When studying it is helpful for this type of learner to use different colour highlighters or pens as they are reading and taking notes. These students may also be more sensitive to visual distractions. Auditory is listening. Auditory learners do well with lecture, class discussions, etc. While lecture is considered the least effective teaching method, some students learn best by simply listening. These students may also be more sensitive to outside noises. Kinaesthetic is the sense that detects bodily position. Some people need to have continuous movement as they are studying, such as tapping there fingers or foot on the floor, fooling with their hair, using a stress ball, or chewing gum. This is absolutely natural but if they are not alone studying, makes sure they do not distract others. The theory of multiple intelligences (H. Gardner) suggests that there are a number of distinct forms of intelligence that each individual possesses in varying degrees. H.Gardner proposes seven primary forms: linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, body-kinesthetic, intrapersonal and interpersonal. These are just a few, but the real question is do we use them and do they work? We all know that children have different ways of learning, so it is important to take account of the individual learning styles of the pupils. So teachers can try to teach the way their students learn the best. There is a test you can take which was introduced by David Kolbs in 1984 which can access and verify your specific learning style. However according to Susan Greenfield, the practice is "nonsense" from a Neuroscientific point of view. "Humans have evolved to build a picture of the world through our senses working in unison, exploiting the immense interconnectivity that exists in the brain. It is when the senses are activated together – the sound of a voice is synchronisation with the movement of a person’s lip – that brain cells fire more strongly than when stimuli are received apart.” “The rationale for employing Vak learning styles appears to be weak. After more than 30 years of educational research in to learning...
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