The Different Learning Styles In The Classroom

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A developing problem in our education system is the environment in which the learning takes place, because of the variety of different learning styles and ways in which they are being accommodated. It is evident that along with every type of personality, comes a different style of learning, therefore it is important to establish these differences and be able to adapt these styles within class activities and interactions. Although, it is important to follow the theory and technical structure of education, it is becoming clear that the main focus of every teacher, should be the connections they make with every student they encounter. In order to attain this goal, every student must feel that their learning is valued and equally important to their fellow peers. With the variety of learning styles from each student in the classroom, it is crucial that each one be intergraded in everyday lessons. Implementing, theorist John Dewey’s approach on a stimulating classroom into the curriculum of our education system, it can encourage more teachers to be apt to engaging in connections with students and creating a setting in which the learning styles of every student be integrated. Creating many different activities and conversations that students can relate to can help adapt to the various learning styles. Dewey suggest that the stimulus of every classroom should focus on the learning of the students and the experiences created within the setting. (John Dewey 21st century). This said, the environment in which these relationships can happen play a large role on students’ approach of learning, the classroom setting and school in general. Keeping in mind the dynamic of every classroom and the success of students, we must respond the needs of every individual by considering the many ways to interact with them personally.

The history of education

In the past, the classroom setting was oriented around the preferences of the teachers. Classrooms were organized around the educator being at the front displaying authority and students were separated by rows individually. (TED TALK). In other words, they were teacher-centred rather than student-centred. This setting prevents student interaction and suggests a certain dominance for the instructor. Thus, forcing the learners to be passive rather than active in the classroom. (sage to stage). This also forces there to be a lack of opportunity for stimulation and creativity for the students. This dynamic leads to the notions “Sage on the stage” which is when a teacher is simply lecturing in front of a class and the information is often transferred to the students directly with very little or zero interaction at all. (sage to stage). Over the years, this term has shifted to “Guide on the side”, which implies that the learners are the central focus of the classroom and the role of educators is to be a guide in the classroom. (sage to stage). Thus, giving students the chance to demonstrate their different learning styles and work with others in order to make connections. With educators on the “side”, this can lead to personal connections because students are giving more opportunity for questions and conversations between their peers and educators. Another way of approaching a student-centred classroom, is giving students more choices. During his TedTalk, educator Joe Rulh suggests his opinion of choices in the classroom. He says, creating various activities that will adapt to all learning styles and that will still follow the curriculum, helps students to engage and understand the materiel most effectively. (TEDTALK). This can increase the success rates of students understanding and connecting with the information provided. He states that a giving students’ activities such as audio leaning, experiments or group discussions, etc., can be compared to the decisions they male in the cafeteria. (TEDTALK). Having the choice to pick between the things they like most will have them more excited and interested to eat, just as they will be more engaged if they are doing an activity they enjoy. (TEDTALK). Having choice also has the ability to enhance classroom experience and can help demonstrating these same skills in their environments outside the classroom setting. Although, there seems to have been a major change in the classroom settings, these advancements have unfortunately not all been integrated in the lesson plans of all teachers and educators. With Dewey’s learning theory being implemented into lessons plans and curriculum of every level of learning, these standards can be met.

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The types of learning

When considering the different types of learning, the most important part is determining which characteristics connects to the interest of every student individually. The four main areas of learning are visual, auditory, read/write and kinesthetic.

Visual learners tend to visualize the information provided; therefore, they use charts, colours, symbols, etc. Teachers can adapt to this by adding pictures on PowerPoints, ask students to draw their thoughts or organize notes in diagrams. Whereas, auditory learners use the sense of hearing to best understand the material in the classroom. This can be intergraded by repeating information in different forms, participation in group discussions or recording notes to listen multiple times. Read/write learners will re-write and re-copy their notes in order reformulate and better understand the concepts, they often refer to lists. Finally, kinesthetic learning is based on the five senses. They learn best when they are moving and interact actively with objects in the classroom.

Although these diverse methods may seem completely different, many students may adapt to more than one. Meaning, that auditory learning may be beneficial to a student, but they also learn well by recopying their notes. This is a demonstration on how diverse students are and how important it is that the methods linked to diverse learning styles be implemented in the classroom.

John Dewey’s approach

John Dewey believed that the stimulus in the environment of the classroom carries the most importance in the perception of student learning. (how people learn) He built his theory on the concepts of student-oriented lessons, the division of creativity and curriculum and the importance of experience. (how people learn). This said, the foundation of the classroom setting should revolve around the needs of the students, giving them the chance to experience learning on their own. With the notion of educators being a guide to their students, their role is creating an environment where every student feels comfortable to share their ideas and makes individual connections with the materiel being taught in class. Thus, creating a difference between the curriculum should be given and how student will process and understand this knowledge.

Dewey suggest that learning does not only happen in the classroom, that the knowledge learnt in the classroom should be transmitted to experience outside the classroom. The skills obtained while working with peers and in a comfortable setting can increase the success students have in retaining and understanding the information rather than simply memorizing the curriculum.

The importance of this change

The value of implanting the methods related to a stimulating classroom is to give students the opportunity to be creative, learn from experience and to express their knowledge in their everyday lives. The only way creativity can be expressed, is if there is a source of inspiration, which in the case of education must come from the educator (ted talk).

Following Dewey’s approach, professor Joe Ruhl provides his foundation of teaching in one of his TedTalks. He explains the function and use of six “c’s”; choice, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity and caring. (TED TALK). Ways to integrate these concepts in the classroom are providing a variety of activities related to the different learning types; listening to a lesson using technology, experiments, problem solving, etc., giving students the chance to work in groups and concentrating on making the learning of the student the central focus of the classroom.

Students are our future and the way they learn will impact the way they develop, therefore, adapting to their learning needs is crucial. With the diverse learning habits and abilities provoked from each student, every learning style must be featured.  


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