Learning styles – are you being stubborn?

So I was analyzing the scoring and comments from participants of my recent workshop at Write on the Sound, and I was reminded again that there are several (probably many) learning styles. We approach information in our own way, we process communication differently, we are motivated by varying factors.

In short, we're different, and our learning reflects this. Woe to the teacher, mentor or presenter who doesn't take this differentiation into account.

Some learning styles:

* Visual: Exactly as it implies, there are those who need to see what they’re learning, whether examples, diagrams, or even the words themselves. It’s that last part that I find so interesting, that people will sometimes recall seeing the words written, rather than hearing them. Fascinating.

* Kinesthetic: Movers & shakers. Some need to move in order to learn. There was a great piece on this in John Medina's book, Brain Rules. Now, I've not had much success incorporating kinesthetic learning into workshops for young adults and adults because, frankly, participants can feel a bit insecure when they're asked to get up, walk around, or move otherwise during a presentation.

To vault this hurdle, I'm looking at utilizing beach balls or building blocks, so that people can be in some motion while they learn. A similar approach can be made for those artistic learners, that is, those who need to doodle or create in order to solidify their learning.

* Participatory: This is definitely my favorite and the learning style I reference most. Here’s the deal: when individuals are actively involved in their learning, the lesson sticks that much stronger. I love it, absolutely. Just like the don’t-give-a-fish-but-teach-to-fish, this learning style can take some time, and the presenter must be patient, oh but it’s so great.

Some motivations:

* Commitment: This might be tough to hear, but I've got to say it: just because you have something to teach, doesn't mean people are committed to learning it. Have people chosen to be taught by you via some sort of voluntary experience, like a workshop? Or have they been placed under your leadership or in your class? A dramatic difference indeed. Even those who choose you, why did they? Were you the better of two uniteresting options, or is there something in particular they're hoping to take away from your presentation?

* Scenario: I think we've discussed previously: people are multi-faceted, with dreams, disappointments, physical ailments and passions. Someone might come to you (or have been placed under your leadership) in a distracted state - ill, heartbroken, tired. This flows a bit from the previous bullet because sometimes - often? - people are unable to commit a sufficient portion of their brainpower to your leadership.

* Notches in the belt: sometimes the primary goal of individuals is a particular quantity of teachings, rather than learned knowledge. That is, some people "collect" workshops, teachings and mentors like others collect vintage guitars, sexy shoes, and books. Some of us are collectors, which is not to say anything negative - simply, it's a motivation.

So, thank you again to the participants of my Write on the Sound workshop - you were an absolute delight, and it was a pleasure to grow together with you.

Thanks also to Erin Vargo and Heather VanMouwerik - lots of great discussions on presentations and connecting with people.


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