I read an interesting article debunking three commonly held beliefs (referred to as "neuromyths") about how people think and learn. The first is that we use only 10% of our brains. (Lots of jokes here about how most people don’t even use that, etc.) I seem to recall using the statistic in a paper I once wrote for a college psych class. The professor let me know, in no uncertain terms, that the idea was false. I don’t think I believed him.
The second says that providing an “enriching” environment will give a boost to your baby’s brain. The article says this theory may have come from studies done on rats: those raised in cages with exercise wheels and tunnels “showed better cognitive abilities” than those raised in bare cages. How this applies to humans? Unless you are raised in a closet, or some other unnatural environment (the equivalent of the rat in the amenity-less cage), with regards to amount, most children probably get adequate, if not, too much stimuli --even we unSocialized homeschoolers. As to the quality of the stimuli, well, that’s a whole other matter.
The third so-called “neuromyth” – and this is the one I think home educators have really grasped onto – is that for our children to learn effectively, we must cater to their preferred learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). This is one of the hallmarks of home education, right? It’s one way we distinguish ourselves from the “one size fits all,” mindless drone model of the public schools.
Well, when the theory was put to the test, the conclusion was that a student’s preferred method of learning is not necessarily the most effective method. And visual learning seems to be the most effective regardless of a person’s preference. (Read the article and watch the video here).
I have never really tried to ascertain the types of learners my children are. I don’t know that they would neatly fit into any one category. Nor is one type of learning (listening to an audiobook, for example) going to be effective for every subject, or on any given day.
As many of you have no doubt experienced, when it comes to home education, adaptability, rather than pigeon-holing, is key. I have presented information one way, found that it wasn’t working, and then figured out how to show it in another way until it clicks. There are days when my 10-year-old son doesn’t mind doing his math worksheet, quietly reading on his own, or writing a descriptive paragraph. Other days, it’s all that I can do to get him to settle down and concentrate. Those are the times when a more tactile approach is employed – less bookwork, more activity.
Not very “scientific” I suppose, but, I have found that the best method on any given day is essentially whatever’s working.
What are your thoughts? Do you homeschool each child according to a particular learning style or method? Have any of you used a learning style assessment tool to deterimine your child's learning style? Post the link.