A palette of colours

I think few of us would deny that each of us is unique, or question the importance of an individual’s interests and abilities to learning. Much has been written about learning styles, multiple intelligences and differentiation of instruction.

Most teachers try to incorporate a variety of experiences into their programs in order to maximise learning opportunities in the hope that, if students don’t “get” it one way, they will “get” it in another. The imposition of national standardised assessment makes doing this a challenge for teachers. The increased requirement for the implementation of particular approaches to teaching makes it even more so.

To say that I hold fairly strong views about learning, and the differences I consider there to be between education and schooling is perhaps an understatement, but it wasn’t always so.

My memory tells me that, while I probably didn’t “love” school, I probably didn’t “hate” it either. It was simply something that I had to do. I didn’t question it. I did my best to be a “good” girl, do what was expected of me, and conform. All of which I think I did pretty well.

The questioning came later and had more impact upon my teaching and parenting than it did on my own schooling. I came to view schooling as something that is “done” to us, and education as something that we do for ourselves. That is not to say that no worthwhile learning takes place in school, for it does, but education is a whole-of-life experience and schooling is but one small part of that.

Education is a whole of life experience

However, if the importance of schooling, and here I mean learning of particular content by particular ages, is inflated and rated more highly than children’s natural curiosity, interests and abilities, then the consequences to individuals and the community in general can be more negative than positive. One consequence may be that children don’t enjoy school; another may be the view that only school knowledge is important; and yet another may be that children are turned off learning all together.

My first conscious discomfort with what, for convenience, I’ll call a factory model of schooling (children go in one end, have things “done” to them, and come out the other end all the same) was as a young teacher when all five year two teachers were expected to be doing the same thing at the same time. That imposition, along with other inadequacies that were beginning to become apparent, set me on a quest to learn more about learning and education. My quest has never ceased and I am still searching for answers.

Recently I read a book by Daniel T. Willingham entitled Why Don’t Students Like School? The title had instant appeal, of course, and I thought I’d recognise a few of the reasons at least. My initial expectation was of reading views similar to those of authors like John Holt, Ivan Illich, A.S. Neill and John Dewey whose books I had read in the 70s and 80s; but a closer look at the subtitle told me I was in for more: “A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How The Mind Works and What It Means For The Classroom”.

The book is a wonderful read and I’m certain to share many of Willingham’s ideas with you in future posts. I enjoyed it because, in almost equal measure it reinforced, challenged and extended my thinking about many aspects of learning and how best to provide for and stimulate it in a classroom setting.

Sometimes Willingham would make a statement with which I agreed, and then go on to explain the faulty thinking behind it. Sometimes his statement would seem to completely contradict what I think but his explanation would show that we simply had different ways (mine perhaps inadequate) in explaining it.

What I really appreciate about the book is that Willingham carefully translates what has been learned from research into practices that can be implemented in the classroom to enhance student learning. Often research seems only to tell teachers what they already know from experience and observations, or provides information in such an abstract way that nothing of practical use can be gleaned.

The section of Willingham’s book that I refer to today is “Chapter 7 – How Should I Adjust My Teaching for Different Types of Learners?” Willingham opens the chapter with the words “All children are different.” He says that some learn visually, some auditorily; that some are linear thinkers and some holistic, for example, and that

“It seems that tailoring instruction to each student’s cognitive style is potentially of enormous significance”.

The important word in that sentence is “seems”. He talks about the differences in the way that hypothetical Sam and Donna might learn and says that “An enormous amount of research exploring this idea has been conducted in the last fifty years, and finding the differences between Sam and Donna that would fit this pattern has been the holy grail of educational research, but no one has found consistent evidence supporting a theory describing such a difference.”

He states that the “cognitive principle guiding this chapter is:

“Children are more alike than different in terms of how they think and learn.”

That statement really made me sit up and take notice: “Children are more alike than different”. But it turns out, those words are not the most important ones in the sentence. The most important ones are: “in terms of how they think and learn.

He goes on to say that, “the claim is not that all children are alike, nor that teachers should treat children as interchangeable. Naturally some kids like math whereas other are better at English. Some children are shy and some are outgoing. Teachers interact with each student differently, just as they interact with friends differently; but teachers should be aware that, as far as scientists have been able to determine, there are not categorically different types of learners.”

He also talks about it in this video:

Willingham acknowledges that students differ in their cognitive abilities and styles. What he does in the chapter is “try to reconcile the differences among students with the conclusion that these differences don’t mean much for teachers.” In reading these words one might expect that Willingham is proposing that differentiation is not an important part of classroom practice. But such is not the case, as stated in this video:

In the book he writes, “I am not saying that teachers should not differentiate instruction. I hope and expect that they will. But when they do so, they should know that scientists cannot offer any help.” According to Willingham, scientists have not identified any types of learners or styles of learning.  He says, “I would advise teachers to treat students differently on the basis of the teacher’s experience with each student and to remain alert for what works. When differentiating among students, craft knowledge trumps science.

What Willingham says is of most importance for a learner to learn is background knowledge. If a student does not have sufficient background knowledge to understand the content or concepts which are presented, learning will not take place. This supports the advice that I repeatedly give to parents: read to your children, talk with them, and provide them with a wide range of experiences and activities. The same is true for teachers: ensure the students have sufficient knowledge on which to build the new work you are expecting them to grasp.

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has thrown a prompt with which I have struggled: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about the day the earth turned brown. I always like to tie my responses to the educational focus of my blog and this one had me stumped for a while. A mind journey following various twists and turns, retracing well-worn paths, and hitting many dead ends, finally led me to an oasis in the parched brown earth: the uniqueness of each of us; the amazing potential of each new child to create possibilities beyond our imagining; and the contrasting effect of a narrow test-driven school system that attempts to reduce each to the sameness of minimum standards and age (in-)appropriate benchmarks. A paint palette seemed a suitable medium for the story.

For those of you who have been following Marnie’s story, I apologise. She makes no appearance this time, though I have not ruled out the possibility with student M. I’d be pleased to know what you think.

palette

Palette potential

She walked between the desks admiring their work. From the same small palette of primary colours, and a little black and white for shades and tones, what they produced was as individual as they: J’s fierce green dinosaur and exploding volcanoes; T’s bright blue sea with sailing boat and smiling yellow sun; B’s football match . . . At least in this they had some small opportunity for self-expression. She paused at M’s. M had mixed all the colours into one muddy brown and was using hands to smear palette, paper, desk and self . . .

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.

 

 

44 thoughts on “A palette of colours

  1. Bec

    It sounds like Willingham has some very interesting perspectives – interesting he has stated that science hasn’t found the answer, but hasn’t used that as grounds to suggest teachers need to change what they’re doing. I like that attitude! ‘Craft knowledge’ is a beautiful term, too. I wonder if perhaps some of the differences between what teachers do and what the science was attempting to uncover is that we are hyper-obsessed with categorisation, so had attempted to find several neat boxes into which students’ learning styles (and therefore the students) can fit. Whereas there’s an infinite variation across infinite spectra for students’ abilities and learning styles. You outlined many of Willingham’s perspectives, but I am interested in how you feel they reflect (or otherwise) your own experiences and views? Great FF, too. Lots of different ways of having fun and being creative!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Bec. You have been busy catching up on a lot of my posts. I really enjoyed Willingham’s book, as I said. Usually I do give my opinion. Sometimes I don’t because I am still considering what has been said, mulling it over, thinking about how it fits with my observations and “beliefs” before I make judgement. Finding out the responses of my readers gives me more to think about and helps me decide. Sometimes I don’t decide though. It’s like I have a shelf of possibilities from which I can choose, mix them up and toss them around until I find something that makes sense to me. Sometimes I do my thinking aloud on my blog to find out what I, and others, think. The FF helps with that too. 🙂

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  2. Pingback: A sprinkling of semicolons | Norah Colvin

  3. amkuska

    I was homeschooled. For science I flew rocket simulations and spoke with astronauts. For history we pretended to walk the oregon trail. By the time I hit college I made straight A’s, and found traditional education remarkably boring. :-/

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    1. Lloyd Lofthouse

      I agree. I spent about 9 years in college—a lot of it part time after I earned my BA in journalism, and many of the classes I took were boring—some weren’t but many were. The lecture halls with hundreds of students listening to the dull monotone of a professor’s lecture were the worst.

      I’ve read a number of times that about 80% of workers don’t like their jobs. Maybe that’s because most jobs are tedious and boring and there aren’t enough jobs to go around that are rewarding and interesting.

      for instance, I was fifteen when I started my first job—washing dishes 30 hours a week nights and weekends for three years while I went to high school weekdays where I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on in class, because I was having too much fun sitting in the back of the room reading paperback books (hidden inside my text)—-usually historical fiction, SF or Fantasy. I was seldom bored as I read what I wanted to read and not what was assigned. I was a horrible passive-aggressive student k – 12.

      How can washing dishes for several hours at a stretch for minimum wage be interesting?

      After high school graduation, from that boring job washing dishes, I went into the U.S. Marines and out of boot camp—where you can’t be bored because of the fear of failure. The drill instructors are almost always yelling at someone and insulting them in creative ways—we went straight into combat in Vietnam. In combat, you pay attention to everything and have no time to be bored because that can get you killed or wounded.

      My first full time job out of college after the Marines came with long hours and repetitive paperwork. After a few years, i left that tedious, boring job that was driving my crazier than I already was and went into teaching for thirty years and can’t think of many boring days as a teacher. Instead, every day was challenging. You never knew what challenge was going to walk in that classroom door with the face of a child or teen, and my work weeks ran 60 to 100 hours. I was too busy to be bored.

      I suspect that life is probably eight parts boring and two parts interesting for most people—-at least it was before ear buds, the internet and smart phones.

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      1. Norah Post author

        Thanks for sharing your experiences, Lloyd. You have certainly engaged in a variety of occupations throughout your life. No time to be bored either as a soldier or a teacher! Some teachers consider their work environment to be a battleground!
        I don’t like the sound of eight parts boring! How dreary! Do you think ear buds, the internet and smart phones have raised or lowered that percentage? 🙂

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        1. Lloyd Lofthouse

          I came up with the 8 parts boring becasue studies, polls and surveys have reported that about 80% of workers don’t like their jobs. Maybe that doesn’t mean they are bored, but unhappy.

          If you are on the Internet, I don’t see how you can be bored. And ear buds allow you to take audio books or music anywhere you want at any time. I think outside of working a job you don’t care for, smartphones, the internet and ear buds have probably reduced boredom to almost zero but then I’ve read that watching too much TV and texting too much have had a negative impact on developing and cultivating the imagination—because texting and watching TV takes time away from reading books and studies have revealed that reading books contributes to the growth of imagination..

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          1. Norah Post author

            I agree! I’ve never found time to be bored! There’s too much to do and not enough time. Tedious tasks that require little thought (like washing dishes) leave room for imaginations to soar! Other tedious tasks that require concentration don’t allow time for boredom. Reading is definitely an empowering occupation!

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            1. Lloyd Lofthouse

              And if civilization collapsed tomorrow and took the Internet with it, I already have enough tree books for my reading pleasure probably for the next fifty years or more and I’m already nearing 70, so I’m set—that is if I survived the collapse and found a safe place to read.

              All that’s needed is light and about half of each day comes with natural light.

              :o)

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    2. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your comment. Your education sounds purposeful, meaningful and fun. I’m not surprised you got straight As after such a wonderful beginning. Nor does your comment about traditional schooling surprise me. 🙂

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  4. Pingback: The Day the World Turned Brown « Carrot Ranch Communications

  5. Sherri

    I definitely think I’m a visual learner rather than an audio one. I’ve never listened to audio books or tapes, I lose interest almost immediately. I don’t like listening to people ramble on the radio, but love music of course. That’s why I found school so boring most of the time, listening to boring teachers rattle on. I just wanted to get on with the work, I am one of those people who once I get it down in writing, and read it back, then I’ve got it. Also, it’s no good showing me how to do something: I have to do it myself, with mistakes and all, and then I’ve got it. Same with driving. My daughter was pulled out of her high school GCSE classes (used to be ‘O’ Levels in my day) as she recognised as needing to study in a different way, using ‘Kinesthetic Learning’. I was grateful that the teacher responsible for this move for my daughter, saw her need. It certainly helped her, but I just wish that her Asperger’s had been picked up then too. She has lost so much confidence in the big wide world that she has become socially avoidant. But that’s a whole different subject. Great post Norah and I love your flash, your ending makes me think of a troubled child, one who is living in a dark, mixed up world, but one who is trying to find their way. Powerful and beautifully written…

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    1. Sarah Brentyn

      Yes to everything Sherri says here. 🙂 No audio books or radio talk for me. Very little, anyway. But do love music. I definitely have a learning “style”, I think. O_o My children do, too. And the whole different subject of Asperger’s and learning…

      I’m not sure I agree that there aren’t different types of learners. Hmm. I’ll have to give this post a deeper read and watch all the videos.

      Love this flash. (I did think “M” was Marnie…)

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      1. Norah Post author

        It is possible I have not fully represented Willingham’s ideas, but others have certainly misunderstood his intent, as shown by the second video I included in the post. Both you and Sherri have children with Asperger’s, though at different ages. I have had a little, but not a lot, to do with children with Asperger’s so I am unable to have any firm opinions about their learning styles or needs. I am happy to learn from both of you. 🙂
        Thanks for your thoughts about my flash. I will consider how this situation may fit into Marnie’s world. 🙂

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    2. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences as a learner, Sherri; and those of your daughter. I agree with you about the necessity of a learner doing things for themselves rather than being shown. I think this is especially important when teaching children (or others) to use technology. It is very difficult to see what someone is doing on a computer keyboard or screen. One needs to be in control of the mouse, keyboard, tablet, screen etc to understand what has to happen. It is true for most things, but not all, for example learning that a fire is hot!
      I’m very disappointed that your daughter’s experiences have taught her to avoid social experiences. How distressing it must be for you all. I’m sure the support you give her is of enormous benefit.
      Thank you for your kind words re my flash – much appreciated. 🙂

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      1. Sherri

        You are so kind Norah, thank you so much for your concern about my daughter. Yes, it is distressing at times because I worry so much for her future, but that is how it is.
        And I meant to say about your flash, or rather ask, was or is M Marnie? I suspect so…

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        1. Norah Post author

          I couldn’t quite decide whether this was Marnie or not. I had the ‘T’ there for that student first, and an ‘M’ for another, then I thought that maybe it could be Marnie, and changed them around. Still a bit undecided, but possibly. 🙂

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  6. Daniel Johnston

    Interesting, yes I agree that the learning ways and other things put forth by some in the psychiatric and educational community completely lack evidence. While the three learning styles may have some validity in terms of the information that you take in, that doesn’t mean that it’s so absurdly black and white that people necessarily have a predominant style. What makes kids, and anyone, learn is their own motivation, commitment, and enthusiasm, as well as the strength of the resources at their disposal. None of that has to do with a formal school, and, as you point out, may in many cases be directly antithetical to it.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Daniel. I appreciate the sentiments expressed in your comment, especially that little of what affects a learner’s motivation, commitment and enthusiasm may have anything to do with formal schooling. 🙂

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  7. lucciagray

    Wonderful post! There’s so much information available about learning styles and learner differences, that I’m shocked when I mention it and teachers stare black blankly and say, ‘I couldn’t possibly manage that’, when it’s the only way to teach! We just need to make sure we incorporate different types of activities into the classroom so it’s not all sit down, listen and write. Students need to speak about what they’re learning, do things with what they learn, watch videos, do some physical and artistic activities, etc. There is no other way to learn or to live:) Although it’s often a losing battle 😦 Great flash, too. Exemplifies perfectly how different we all are, as are all this week’s brown flashes!

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    1. Norah Post author

      What you say is so true, Luccia. To use a well-worn cliché: variety is the spice of life. It is just as true for the classroom as everywhere else.
      Thanks for your kind words re my flash. There certainly was a variety, and yours with the appreciation of your grandson’s brown eyes was especially lovely.

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  8. Charli Mills

    I can understand how Willigham challenged and expanded your thinking! He does explain the complexities in learning and breaks down the common theories. Yet he says, “good teaching is good teaching” and mentioned being alert to what a teacher observes. Perhaps like your flash. It could mean many things and nothing! I recall mixing paints as a child hoping to create a vivid new color and disappointed to end up with mud. M might be disturbed, highly imaginative or confident enough to experiment. So much is put on the teacher to figure it out. Yet, in college, the first class I took was how to be a better learner. It offered all sorts of learning techniques that I could pick and choose from, and when it came down to it, what mattered most was that I took information from my short-term memory to long-term and that I mastered one step before taking the next. In fact, another class I took, math for liberal arts students, my teacher boldly told us at the beginning that our struggles with math stemmed from gaps in the basics. And he was going to help each of us learn our own gaps. He was right! When I recognized my own gaps I recalled how I was offered pre-algebra in 6th-grade. It was considered advanced, but it also meant that I never learned some of the 6th-grade basics that had nothing to do with algebra. I think there needs to be a break from the factory teaching (great phrase, by the way). I think teachers need to have many tools in their belt and that students need to learn multiple tools upon which they can draw from as they progress. My best teachers were not “visual.” My best teachers were the ones that inspired me to learn and be accountable for my own progress. Great post and good use of the prompt to illustrate what you have shared with us.

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    1. Norah Post author

      It was good to hear Willingham confirm that good teaching is good teaching. Sometimes I have felt that (some) scientists attempt to discredit what teachers have learned through their observations, trial and error and experience. Every day in the classroom adds to the knowledge and research of what works and what doesn’t and for whom. Unfortunately what works for one doesn’t always work for another, or even each time. There are so many different influences upon learning. And I appreciate that you interpret it so for my “artist”. There are any number of reasons a child may make “mud”. An experiment gone wrong (as in your case), but providing wonderful learning, could be one of them. Chastising a child who may be already disappointed with the outcome could have rather disastrous consequences on their attitude to art, themselves, and willingness to try.
      Thanks for sharing your experiences with maths and the understanding it helped you develop about learning. Your ability to reflect on your learning, knowledge and what else is necessary to learn, are indicators of ownership of learning. Of course, students in the factory model don’t have any sense of ownership at all. (I’m pleased you like the phrase, but I’m sure I can’t take credit for it).
      I love your description of the best teachers – those that inspired you to learn and to be accountable for your own progress. I’ll have to quote you on that. It’s a goody!
      Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  9. Lloyd Lofthouse

    “He says that some learn visually, some auditorily; that some are linear thinkers and some holistic”

    This is how I eventually planned the lessons that I taught—I attempted to provide elements in each lesson that offered children with different ways of learning to engage in that learning.

    I taught for thirty years (1975-2005), so I left before the No Child Left Behind insanity and the Common Core standardized rank and yank testing agenda became the tyrant in the public schools that it is today stripping teachers of their ability to teach to reach as many children as possible.

    But I was there at the beginning of the mania of standardization that started to strip teachers of their ability to engage children on an individual basis.

    I did not teach my students individually. I taught them as a class but designed the lessons with elements that might appeal to the individual learning styles of each student. And sometimes that meant turning the teaching over to the children and me sitting in the back grading the lessons they planned and created in their small teams.

    In addition, I knew that, being individuals, many of the children I taught were not going to be willing, avid readers with good study habits and that writing also increased literacy, and that explains why in my class there was a very strong writing factor.

    A lot of the assignments were essays and reports designed to link the literature to the lives of the children I taught. For that reason, I seldom used the assembly line lessons in the textbook and wrote all of the prompts and directions for writing assignments myself and designed them to bring out the individuality of each student through their own writing..

    Of course, that meant I was working 60 to 100 hour weeks and most of that time was spent reading what the students wrote and leaving personalized comments when they were called for, but before I read their work, they read the work of all their peers in groups where they were taught to become critical readers that only offered positive comments to improve the work. I taught them how and working together in those groups, they learned what that meant.

    As for the children who hated going to school, most of those children hated it because the assembly line structure of the education system had left them behind and the further they fell behind in their reading and/or math skills the angrier they became resulting in children who rebelled and acted out disrupting the teaching/learning environment of the classroom.

    For instance, in all of the 9th grade English classes I taught, there were children who read at 2nd grade and others that already read at the college level—and the district forced us to teach to the state standards and use a grade level textbook. That guaranteed that the students who read far below grade level were mostly lost from the start, and how is one teacher working with 34 or more students in each of his classes going to overcome that with less than 60 minutes a day for each class while dealing with the few who rebelled and disrupted the educational environment on an almost daily basis?

    I don’t care what any of the advice givers suggest,—few if any of their pie in the sky ideas work for every child who hates school and arrived in your 9th or 10th grade classroom with a history of that hate going back to grade school.

    Every child does not arrive at school equal. Where I taught, there was a childhood poverty rate that was more than 70% and most of the children were from the minorities and made up the majority. About 8% of the student population was white. There was also an entrenched, multi-generational street gang culture so dangerous and violent that the local police didn’t patrol many of the local community’s streets at night because it was too dangerous.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Lloyd, Thank you very much for the depth of thought in your response and the passion for teaching and students that I can hear through your words. There is so much in your comment, it is really a post in itself.
      I think many teachers did as you did – planned for variety in your lessons to try to reach every child. Almost an impossibility now with the imposition of not only structure but content. It makes good teachers weep, or burnout sooner trying to balance meeting the needs of their students with the demands of their employer.
      The hours you worked were enormous. We worked at different ends of the spectrum – me with children starting their schooling process, you with them nearing the end. But the hours to do the job well were hours well spent, though their value unrecognized by others (other than the students who may never consciously realize the value you added with what you did).
      I like the way you negotiated tasks with students, and taught them to work collaboratively and cooperatively, and to affirm each other.
      The situation you describe with children far below grade standards being expected to achieve equally with others is abhorrent. It makes me want to cry. The injustice and unfairness is widespread. No wonder there is so much violence and crime in the area you describe. Why should they care? Society has failed them and gives them no meaning or purpose.
      I wish you well in “retirement”. Your voice still needs to be heard – loud and clear – and responded to.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my blog, and sharing mine on yours! 🙂

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  10. TanGental

    It’s nice to met a scientist who says ‘well, we’ve done a lot of experiments and tests and basically, it’s down to your common sense’. I find it hard to agree that there aren’t different learning types, though. Maybe because the lawyer is dyslexic and the Vet is super OCD that their learning preferences reflect those articular traits – none the less they still have their preferred ways to learning. Possibly it’s not that there aren’t difference, but rather the experiments are crap and need rethinking.
    And no the flash; you are becoming the master (mistress) of the intriguing last line. So many questions as to why the little girl is making muddy browns and lathering them everywhere. You are a rotten tease, Ms Colvin!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Yes. The differences are interesting. I guess what he’s saying is that there are techniques that are more similar to all learners than differences in learning that are related to personality. I must admit it took me a little by surprise. I need to do a little more thinking on it. I think he explains it rather well in the book, and I’d certainly been aware of Gardner’s work falling out of favour with scientists prior to reading this book. He is not saying to not take learning differences into account – just not “styles” as such. I need to understand it better to explain it better!
      Thanks for the comments re my flash. Whenever I have handed out what I consider to be a beautiful palette of colours to children expecting to see an array of brightly coloured works, there has always been one who mixes them all together. I have to stop myself from expressing disappointment. They may do it for any number of reasons, not least of which might simply be to see what happens! 🙂

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  11. desleyjane

    What an interesting read Norah. I always loved school and knew that I was “Different”. Even now, when I’m teaching adult scientist, I find that they are all very different as well. I’m a big believer in teaching the basics. In science these days, you can just buy ready-made reagents, but if you teach them how to make them themselves, they can actually do their own troubleshooting and understand the chemistry of why things are happening in their experiment. Sorry if I’m a little off track. Your post made me think about my “learn the basics” rant 😉

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Desley, I am more than happy for you to share your thoughts. It’s all the tangents that broaden my understanding. I don’t even know what reagents are! 🙂
      I’m pleased you enjoyed school. 🙂

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  12. Annecdotist

    Extremely interesting, Norah. Like you, it took me a bit to get my head round what he was saying, but then it’s exactly the same with therapy: there are general principles that apply to all, but no way can it be delivered factory style (although our Department of Health like to pretend that can) and the therapist had to learn from the patient how to adapt his/her style in order to be most effective.
    Very much enjoyed your Flash – and we seem to have similar ideas about mixing paints to make a muddy brown, a distinctive childhood memory for me!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Anne. I’m pleased you enjoyed it. Interesting that we are still finding similarities between our care professions. I guess it does make sense that there would be those. Anything to do with people must require a “personalized” approach!
      I haven’t been over to your blog yet. I’ve had a busy weekend and thought I’d respond to comments here first, but my graph for this week (started today) is beginning to look way out of balance – all in “their” court so far! It’s maybe a good thing I didn’t get over to your place before writing my flash. I may have had to change my mind, and then where would I be? See you at your place soon! 🙂

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  13. Sacha Black

    Now this is a fascinating post. I have a masters in cognitive neuropsychology so anything cognitive: concepts, theories, research I find fascinating. I am extremely curious about this willingham chap too. I had always felt at school that I didn’t like the way they taught. And once I got to university I realised why – I prefer to teach myself – that’s the purpose of uni the classes give you the basic and you have to go off and do the rest yourself. In my final year I rarely sat in more than half a lecture and I still came out with a first. And it’s because I worked my butt off in the library. School was different I HAD to sit there and listen to them drone on. In uni I didn’t make it through a single lecture without falling asleep. I’m a terrible listener of ‘lectures’ I think it’s a hideous way to teach. Thankfully school classes were shorter so I could pay attention for the whole of it. But it didn’t work for me. I did love the learning aspect of school. But I was bullied so it sullied my whole experience. I liked the breadth and range of classes but that didn’t necessarily play to my strengths either, having to split your minds across 5 subjects over the day. I never really understood that, I always thought we should have half or whole days spent on one subject to really get into the detail. I always felt like we scratched the surface then had to be cattle farmed out to the next class. My school as I was leaving caught on to the different types of learners stuff and gave us a test. The problem was they didn’t do an awful lot with the information. Classes weren’t differentiated it was information for us for when we revised. Sadly they didn’t give us the ‘so what’ the how do we implement it…. Sigh.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Sacha. You are a multi-talented gal. Cognitive neuropsychology – now that sounds fascinating. Please tell me more – at least a general idea of what it’s about.
      Thanks for sharing about your learning and the differences between school and uni. I was interested that you said you found the lectures boring. I have always considered myself a reader rather than a listener, but since listening to audiobooks I’m revising my opinion. I very much enjoy listening to them and have little trouble with attention. I guess as far as lectures go, it would depend on the quality of the speaker as well.
      I’m sorry to hear that you were bullied at school. That would definitely affect your thinking and feelings about it. I never felt I was bullied. I was never part of the “in” crowd either, but my little group of friends were happy doing our own thing staying out of others’ way.
      In other sections of the book Wilingham does discuss attention, length of lessons and regularity of practice. I can’t recall his opinion on longer class times, if that was included. From what he says, it was probably good that the teachers didn’t try to do anything with the information about your learning styles. 🙂

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      1. Sacha Black

        Hey Norah, ahhh lol I am not sure I’m that talented really! Cog Neuro Psych, is just a specialism in Psychology. The cognitive bit is interested in brain processes and theories of behaviour and the neuro bit is all about biology of it. So it looks at the theoretical and biological aspects behind behaviour and processes, whether that be synapses hormones. So studied everything from Milgram, to aphasia’s brain damage, and a plethora of other stuff, my masterpiece was around Distributed Cognition of which I am currently drafting up a post, but it is only about half done.

        Ahhh now audio books. I recently started trying these in the car, I am a regional manager so I drive all over the place, but I struggled to get through one book, I found it distracting and hard to pay attention to, and then I lost track of the story and stuff. Anyway, just to say I really loved this post. 🙂

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thanks for your lovely comment and explanation of Cog Neuro Psych! Sacha. I’m still not too sure I understand – don’t have enough background knowledge. I’ll await your post so that it can bring me up to speed!
          I’m disappointed you didn’t experience success with your first audiobook experience. Perhaps it was the material. The first one I tried was a free one. I wanted to make sure it worked for me okay before I spent any money. It was rather dull and boring and I found it difficult to concentrate; so I chose something that I knew I would be interested in, and ta-da! I’m hooked. Maybe a different topic or genre would work better for you too. A friend of mine listens to podcasts. I used to listen to TED talks when I was riding the bus, but prefer books now as I can’t look at the screen while driving!
          Thanks for your enthusiasm! 🙂

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            1. Norah Post author

              Thanks Sacha, but I don’t think it was your explanation. I’m sure it was my lack of background knowledge. I could do a little research myself, but appreciate your offer. Don’t let it take you away from Nano though! 🙂

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          1. Sacha Black

            http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Cognitive_neuropsychology that might help explain better?? let me know if not.

            Ahh, I’ve listened to two, a terry pratchett and another book called ‘the girl who saved sweden’ I think the other reason it doesnt work so well for me, is i listen to them in the car, and thats my thinking and headspace time, so it was just bad timing. Now TED talks in the car might be a winner i LOVE them! that might be a goer i will have a go and let you know how i find it 😀

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            1. Norah Post author

              Thanks for the link, Sacha. The article is very interesting. As I was reading it I was thinking of a book by Norman Doidge called “The Brain that Changes Itself” which described a lot of work done with people who had suffered injuries to their brains. Then as I read further the difference between neuroscience and neuropsychology was described – the difference between brain and mind. I think I’m beginning to get it. Thank you!
              I’d love to know how you go with Ted talks! I hope it works for you. 🙂

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