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Learning styles

Learning styles Mrs. Nawang Lhamo, Assistant Headmistress, Upper TCV Senior school.

Psychologist have proved through research evidences that every individual is capable of learning efficiently in his/her own way. They have also emphasized that there is no good or bad learning style nor is there a right or wrong style of learning. It all depends upon how a person's brain works to learn and store information efficiently. Therefore, the understanding of learning styles becomes crucial of effective learning to take place.

As teachers, we often experience losing control over classroom teaching and sometimes feel utterly frustrated and helpless too. We frequently state that discipline is crucial for any learning to take place and often discuss how we can ensure discipline of the students in school, particularly in the classrooms. We often describe students as restless, impatient, never listen, hates writing, never participate, never take interest in studies, often fall asleep, lack of interest and motivation so on so forth. Sometimes we go to extent of mislabeling a child as having no aptitude/ability in studying a particular subject and draw conclusion without knowing the fact that this mental disposition of ours can have huge negative impact on the child, and thus effecting the natural progressive curve of a child's learning.

Our school is a unique school. Teachers are not just teachers but also have huge parental roles to play. Because of this extra responsibility that we have, we are constantly faced with the situation of making important decisions for our children. Given this situation, I often wonder whether the decision that we make for a child on the basis of his/her performance in school is justified or not. Questions weigh heavily upon and prick my conscience: have I looked into all the possibilities and found ways to bring progress in the child's learning? These questions and uncertainties in my mind make me strongly feel that the knowledge of learning styles is essential as this will enable us to see students in a new light and perspective and help us help in children develop coping skills to compensate for their weakness and capitalize on their strength. Basically there are seven learning styles but they can be narrowed down into three types of learning styles.

(1) Listening learners or auditory learners

(2) Seeing learners or Visual Learners.

(3) Experience learners or kinesthetic learners.

Let me explain briefly these styles of learning with the help of situation from a real life experience. For example, you need to paint a room. How much paint and what supplies do you need? Listening learners might call a painter, a friend, adult or paint store and ask them for instructions. Seeing learners might look online for answers, read websites, find books and magazines about painting and home improvement go to the paint store and read the back of the paint cans for instruction. Experience learners might go buy paint, a brush and start painting. If there's not enough paint or you have the wrong brush, you just buy more and soon after you learn how much and what supplies are required.
In our daily teaching experience, we always see students reacting to any situation in the same manner as mentioned above and from this, we come to know what type of learners our students are and what their preferred learning style is. The following tips might help us as teachers to plan our lessons that accommodate the learning styles of all students.

Auditory learners:

(1) Listening learner are auditory learners.

(2) Encourage them to explain the material as if they were teacher.

(3) Ask them to read explanations out loud.

(4) Advise students to learn the new information out loud.

(5) Ask the students to say words in syllables.

(6) Advise students to join or create a study group, or to get a study partner.

(7) Ask the students to use words link.

Visual learners

(1) They are learners who learn by seeing or writing.

(2) Advise them to always take a notepapers to write.

(3) Make them use colored highlighter.

(4) Ask them to organize study materials.

(5) Often make them study photographs and illustrations.

(6) Ask them to make flashcards. The acts of writing the cards and viewing them doubles their comprehension.

The Kinesthetic learners:

(1) They learn by doing or experience learners.

(2) Have them write while they are reading or talking.

(3) Encourage them to pick up the books as they are reading or talking.

(4) Advise them to sit near the front of their classroom and to take notes. This will keep the students focused.

(5) Encourage them to use the computer to reinforce learning using senses of touch.

(6) Ask them to stretch and move in the chair. Some teachers may feel that it s not possible for us to prepare lessons that incorporate activities listed under learning styles given the fact that we have a very large number of students in each class. I totally understand the challenges that we faces as teachers in term of students background, strength and difficult it is to make every child learn. What we can do is plan a lesson each day by creating at least three activities that are based on the three learning styles so that, students who are visual activity and those who are auditory or kinesthetic will learn from the activities based on the auditory and kinesthetic learning styles. In short, let us incorporate a variety of activities to make sure that every child learns in his/her own perfect learning styles.

I am very hopeful that a brief and concise information that I have shared here will prove useful to all the interested readers, particularly to the educators of TCV schools in reinforcing our classroom teaching and students learning.