When we carry out a consultation in the home of a potential client and student, as well as finding out useful assessment information in terms of gaps to be filled and goals to be achieved, we also carry out a learning styles assessment. I find this quite interesting! As a teacher who was practising through the 1990s and 2000s, learning styles became very fashionable. I even remember some schools ‘branding’ themselves as ‘learning styles’ schools, where they would try to assess individual’s learning styles and then cater for these. Even for those schools which did not embrace the learning styles agenda in such a whole hearted way, the concept of learning styles did begin to become part of the conceptual framework which schools and teachers would use to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching. At the time I found this intriguing. The obvious danger here is that teaching becomes reductive and focused on strategies/styles that are strengths, let alone the question that, can one really try and define the rich complexity of learning by a handful of ‘styles’? However as a practising teacher, I have to say that I did find the concept of learning styles of practical use and benefit. I would often start the new year in September by carrying out a learning styles assessment of the learners in my class. I would use the information from this to help me plan my teaching. I also found the framework very helpful in supporting creative routes into teaching particular subjects/topics, and particularly useful for ‘hooking’ learners into hard to access learning. For example, teaching grammar kinaesthetically, was one particularly useful strategy. I also remember being inspired by a colleague of mine, who led our excellent SEN provision, producing a document called ‘100 ways to write your name’- to support PMLD pupils’ learning. If there are 100 ways to write your name; then there are 100 ways (and more) to teach a concept. Learning styles theory helps teachers to remember that and gives useful tools for teaching.
Here is Tutor Doctor’s advice for supporting kinaesthetic learners.