Different strokes for different folks

Last week H was down with fever. With Grade 10 prelims less than a month away I watched him struggle to study despite continuous sneezing, a streaming nose and a throbbing head. Being a veteran of epic colds, my heart went out to him.

‘Shall I read to you?’ I offered.

‘No,’ said he, ‘I can’t study orally. I need to read it myself’.

I got that. I too find it hard to comprehend ideas unless I see them written down. Which is why I haven’t taken to audio books and my Audible credits have been piling up.

I am more of a visual learner. I can’t even choose from a menu card at a restaurant if someone reads it out to me. I need to hold it in my hands and read it for myself.

On the other hand there’s N.

She took a while to get comfortable with reading and for years I helped her study orally, reading out entire portions of her syllabus. Spellings were a struggle and that made school life difficult. Mercifully she found compassionate teachers and I shall forever be grateful for that. 

I specifically remember her Grade 4 teacher telling me that spellings would cease to be an issue in times to come as more and more writing would go digital. As an editor and writer, I found that inconceivable. However, coming from someone I respected and trusted, it was the most comforting thing I had heard at that point in time.

Anyway, N continues to score full marks in her aurals. She picks up lyrics to entire songs without even being aware of it, she can tell long complicated stories with ease. 

She has mastered reading but unfamiliar words still give her trouble. That doesn’t stop her. She loves stories and is an avid reader and a decent enough writer with a rich imagination. However, the oral form remains her preference.

Visual and Auditory learners

Photo from Pexels.com

Meanwhile, I read up a lot on learning differences, getting sucked into the Internet rabbit hole of information.

I found that auditory learners like N make up just 30 percent of the population (which is why it took me longer to come to terms with her way of learning) while 65 percent are visual leaners like H. The last 5 percent is made of kinesthetic learners who need to do things in order to learn.

Last week’s episode brought back memories of frustrations of their early learning years. I continue to marvel at how different H and N are despite being twins.

Interestingly, ones preferences remain all though life, right up to adulthood. Some of us learn best through books, while videos and podcasts work better for others.

That said, there’s a whole school of thought that rubbishes this categorising of learning styles.

I’d like to believe that learning styles exist but aren’t watertight. Ultimately it boils down to good communication and understanding what works best for your child. Just like everything else about parenting there really is no cut and dried wat.

11 Replies to “Different strokes for different folks”

  1. Like Corinne, I am also an auditory/kinesthetic learner. But actually, there is more to it that just this.

    Learning is in layers, right. First is how you input new data, second is how you store that newly input data by making relationships with existing data in your mind. And third is how you recall the stored data.

    So it is completely possible that a person inputs data auditorily, processes/stores it visually, and then recalls it kinesthetically.

    It’s a fascinating study actually, comes under Neuro Linguistic Programming. In fact, all our life experiences are processed sensorily, including traumas and fears, even our values and beliefs.
    Kay recently put up this amazing post…Do You Regret The Choices You Made?My Profile

  2. I am very much a visual learner. Auditory learning is not for me. No wonder I used to be lost during the lectures at school. Seriously, if I had understood this way back in school, or if my teachers had understood it and helped me accordingly, I would have done better at my academics! Thanks to this awareness, kids today are luckier, don’t you think?

  3. Insightful post OM. I guess I knew different people learned differently but didnt observe enough to make these kind of distinctions.
    I’ve always been fascinated by how different siblings turn out even if raised in the same env. Now, to see this is true for twins as well amazes me even more!
    Priya recently put up this amazing post…Love and light!My Profile

  4. Loved your post, Tulika! Seriously, so little thought is given in conventional schools as to how learning styles vary from one individual to the other. I think they are only beginning to take cognisance of the fact now. This, somehow becomes a very strong factor in determining academic success in the formative years and even beyond. Interestingly, some of us have a combination of learning styles that gets clearer to us only as we grow older. I think learning how to learn is an interesting area of study, Tulika. 🙂

    1. I agree. Learning about the process of learning is interesting. Sadly enough teachers in lower grades just aren’t given their due, when in fact they’re so very important in the formative years of children.

  5. While I love reading, I’m an auditory/kinesthetic learner. I always shudder to think of teachers who don’t get this. Glad N had an understanding teacher.
    When I taught teenage boys, I would pick out the kinesthetic learners and send them on a short walk before the actual teaching started. Best that they worked off some of that energy outside than get up to mischief inside. Sadly, most of our classrooms have no room for them and neither do many teachers create space for these type of learners.

    1. That’s a wise thing to do Corinne. A counsellor once suggested the same thing to rid young children of extra aggression. A lot of teachers don’t give enough thought nor put in enough effort to accommodate differences in the way children learn. I really am grateful N was fortunate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge