I was reminded of this subject by a comment from one of our teachers in the wood shop this last week when she informed our class, "I am a visual learner." In other words she feels she understands things most clearly when she sees something being done or visually demonstrated by another. For her, just listening is not enough. In theory, each of us is predominantly of one type or another, and it can be important for children to understand how they learn best in order to make their own learning needs known. I was interested in how things break down by percentage and this is what I found in Family Education website:
"Approximately 20 to 30 percent of the school-aged population remembers what is heard; 40 percent recalls well visually the things that are seen or read; many must write or use their fingers in some manipulative way to help them remember basic facts; other people cannot internalize information or skills unless they use them in real-life activities such as actually writing a letter to learn the correct format." --(Teaching Students to Read Through Their Individual Learning Styles, Marie Carbo, Rita Dunn, and Kenneth Dunn; Prentice-Hall, 1986, p.13.)In other words, the lecture format is the least effective means to offer learning opportunities, and yet is the primary means through which secondary and University educations are presented. The interesting thing is that the wood shop actually presents the strengths of all three. You see, you hear AND you do. Hands-on learning encompasses all three predominant learning styles and it doesn't take extensive research to understand what you can test for yourself and observe in your own life.
John Grossbohlin sent this link to an article in the Wall Street Journal on the failure of colleges and universities to impart critical thinking skills. Doonesbury had a cartoon last week in which the professor explained to his university students how much they (or their parents) were paying for each to sit through his lecture while they were distracted by twitter and checking Facebook on their hand-held digital devices instead of paying attention in class. Do you think that students would better develop critical thinking skills if they were actually doing something about real learning?
If only 20-30 percent of university students are auditory learners it seems like parents would want to ask for more than their money's worth from their children's educations. Knowing what schooling is, they might at least wonder what their children are doing there in the first place, or demand that real learning take place. Some children and parents will be saddled with massive debt for the time spent Facebooking and all a-twitter in lecture halls throughout the US.
What kind of learner are YOU? Answer the survey in the column at right. Make, fix create, and share a better understanding of hands-on learning with those in your life. The photo above shows the assembly of dovetails forming the corners of the maple Krenov inspired cabinet also shown at left.