nearly 90 percent of Americans think people have unique learning styles — the best known are labeled auditory, visual, and kinesthetic — cognitive research has steadily debunked the idea over time. To mark Brain Awareness Week this month, 30 internationally respected neuroscientists, psychologists, and educators issued a public letter asking teachers to stop wasting time with it. For more, read here. . .
So for how many years we have been told that the problem was the teacher and the classroom not conforming to the diversity of learning styles within the students of that classroom? It sounded good. It seemed to explain why some learn and others do not progress. It seemed to justify the huge sums of money Americans spend on education (tracing down every fad and trend). The one thing it has not done is help our children learn.
We regularly re-invent education, denouncing the past efforts as crude or uniformed, and send our teachers to expensive training sessions that promise everything but deliver little but an expensive bill that steals our attention and our money away from the tried and true methods that work. Worse than merely spending our money and distracting our teachers, these myths give our students an excuse for not working hard and for giving up because their instructional model does not fit their learning style. In her book Mindset, Carol Dweck notes that when people have a “fixed
mindset” about their abilities, seeing failure as a signal to stop
rather than work harder, they are less likely to achieve regardless of
their innate abilities. Thus pegging a child as an “auditory learner”
can teach him to give up or not try when he receives information another
way, ultimately reducing his learning. It gives him an excuse to not do
the work to learn.
Perhaps one of the reasons parochial schools and other similar institutions work is that they have no money to spend on the newest and latest theories of learning and typically stick with the older and, it turns our, more proven methods.