Kinesthetic Learners – damage caused by learning styles.

Some time ago on Twitter someone asked about the actual cost of teachers using the meshing of learning styles hypothesis as a way of structuring learning. Was the cost that great?

The simple answer is reached by thinking about the training costs. Consultants, like me, don’t come cheap. 8-))

The second cost is the opportunity cost. You could have been learning something more worthwhile in the time spent learning about and then planning for different learning styles. Children will have wasted time taking a ‘test’ to see which style they were.

The above all come quite quickly to mind.

Another ‘cost’ is the deception teachers and others were under through having been taught and then having used an incorrect, better to say unevidenced, theory. Bit like believing that trolls actually live under bridges. Silly.

But the effect I have not yet seen anyone account for concerns those kids who were identified as kinesthetic. What happened is that they were given kinesthetic activities to do. Card sorts were popular. Making things from cardboard. Placing answers on cards and posters around the room. they did not learn a great deal from these activities but it mostly kept them quiet.

The damage was that these activities diverted our attention away from what these kinesthetic learners actually needed. They fell further and further behind and this was justified as they were kinesthetic learners who were not really suited to academic learning. they sometimes did well at sport, or pottery, or making things in design technology. They got put on the workshop mechanics courses at the local FE establishment. They did bricklaying.

What they mostly needed was reteaching in how to read and to increase their general knowledge. They had low literacy skills not because they were kinesthetic learners but because they had poor reading skills. As Pamela Snow puts it they were victims of ‘edugenic academic failure’. This is academic failure caused by education!

That is a real cost of matching teaching to learning styles.

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