In defence of Learning Styles

I am getting increasingly annoyed by those who are definitively declaring that ‘Learning Styles don’t exist’. To me, that’s the same as saying ‘Clothing Styles’ don’t exist or ‘Handwriting Styles’ don’t exist. Of course they do!

A style is merely a choice, a preference. 

I would say that in my own learning, I like to make use of a range of learning styles – particularly visual and auditory. In terms of being a visual learner (dirty word) I believe I have quite a photographic memory (although I’m sure in writing this that someone will choose to declare to me that they don’t exist). I believe I am very fortunate in that I can picture things I’ve looked at in my mind’s eye (yep, probably doesn’t exist either). Amongst other things, I believe I can spell some words because I’ve looked at them in a dictionary and I conjure that image in my mind. So, in many ways I would say that at time I make use of a visual learning style.

In terms of auditory learning. I know it helps me to process information if I can say it out loud. I’m pretty sure that when I studied Psychology (if that still exists) that this has something to do with my phonological loop and auditory processing. Sometimes, I will choose or prefer it if someone told me information – rather than me reading it. Sometimes, I feel that hearing information can help clarify meaning – but apparently this isn’t a learning style; they don’t exist.

And, even though I wouldn’t say I’m very kinaesthetic, surely there are things that we definitely learn better by doing: driving a car, brushing teeth, making a sculpture?

The truth is: learning styles do exist but they are context bound.

No, you won’t necessarily be able to write a better essay on volcanoes if you’ve made one out of newspaper – but you might become a painter if you look at lots of paintings.


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