Thursday, September 20, 2012

What Kind of Learner...

... am I?

I had an interesting conversation with another teacher during a planning time. We were talking about styles of learning and she said she thought she was a visual and kinesthetic learner. We talked about her experiences as a learner. She said she wasn't that interested and tended to "zone out" when she was in high school in the 1960s. I asked her if she was more curious now than she was as a teenager. Oh, definitely, she is, she said.  She said she learned considerably more about herself as a learner when she did her Master's because the approach had changed by the time she attended those classes. It was more participatory and collaborative. Obviously, the instructionism with herself as an "empty vessel" that needed filling didn't really work for her. The few times she was given the opportunity to offer an opinion, she wouldn't want to participate because she was unsure of her opinion.

It was interesting how much she sounded like me. As a teen a decade later than her, I was also unsure of how to communicate my thoughts. I tended to think about something I heard first and then try to formulate a response. Those who were quicker and more confident would speak first and the topic move on quickly. I never said what I thought about the subject and was never able to articulate opinions.

This segues nicely into a part of Sawyer's New Science of Learning chapter. He talks about articulation on p. 12: "the best learning takes place when learners articulate their unformed and still
developing understanding, and continue to articulate it throughout the process of learning." He later discusses the idea of learning how to support students through the process of articulation and that scaffolding is one of the most effective ways to do it. He put it this way: "Students need help in articulating their developing understandings; they don't yet know how to think about thinking, and they don't yet know how to talk about thinking." As educators, we would serve our students best if we understood more about the articulation process as well as we know the subject matter. What are the questions that would help them formulate and refine their thoughts? What questions do we need to ask to find out what they already know? How do you give them enough information to ask a question but not so much that you have provided the answer? If they don't know what they don't know, how do they know what to ask? Hmmm....

So what kind of learner am I? I think I'm like that other teacher - visual and kinesthetic.

No comments:

Post a Comment