28 mars 2012

Individual learning styles (Critical Guide, E.D. Hirsch Jr)

   A phrase referring to the well-accepted fact that different students learn in different ways. The phrase is sometimes used to support an emphasis on small class size and individual attention to students, and as a nonjudgmental term for different levels of academic ability. 

   The results of research on learning styles are decidedly mixed. The claims for different styles among different ethnic groups are disputed in the literature. There seems to be solid support for the idea that some students learn better through visual and verbal means than through verbal means alone. Effective teachers have always taught through a diversity of approaches, both in order to avoid boring students through obvious repetition and in the hope that different approaches will stick with different students. 

   Since the only economically feasible and fair system of schooling is one that engages all students in a class most of the time (i.e., a system that employs a generous amount of effective whole-class instruction), one policy implication of different learning styles is that teachers should vary their teaching by using visual aids, concrete examples, and tactile experiences as well as verbal concepts in presenting what is to be learned. 

   The open appeal to different learning styles, like the appeal to "individual differences," has been used as a disparagement of verbal learning and a rationalization for not achieving better results from inherently able but disadvantaged students. (See also "Multiple learning styles," "Multiple intelligences.") 

Antipathy to subject-matter content  

"banking theory of schooling" 
"culturally-biased curriculum" 
"outcomes-based education" 
"research has shown"
Return to the main page : 

This was an excerpt from Hirsch's great book on education :
The Schools We Need 
 and Why We Don't Have Them.
Recension by Richard Askey :  

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