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Teaching to learning styles now out of style

| June 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

Thirty internationally acclaimed neuroscientists, education researchers, academics and psychologists co-signed a letter to UK newspaper The Guardian in mid-March this year, debunking a theory upon which many teachers base their daily classroom practice. The 30 say that teaching to different “learning styles” is a “neuromyth” that could in fact hamper a child’s progress.

Teachers in many parts of the world have long believed that some children have, for example, a listening learning style that responds well to storytelling, and some a visual style that causes them to absorb facts better through pictures. Other styles include an auditory style and a kinaesthetic style.

The letter was intended to jumpstart discussions during Brain Awareness Week, observed annually in the UK and was organised by Bruce Hood, chair of developmental psychology in society at the University of Bristol in the UK. The letter states: “Teachers need to be armed with up-to-date evidence of what has been shown to be effective so that schools are not wasting time or money on unsubstantiated practices that do not help students.”

Hood’s own research has found that the majority of principals of independent schools believe in learning styles. Many polled principals regularly send their teachers on courses to develop their abilities to teaching to different styles. Some schools spend as much as £30 000 each year on such professional development. However, claims Hood: “The claim that students will perform better when the teaching is matched to their preferred sensory modality (learning style) is simply not supported by the science and is of questionable value.”

No formal government decree has been issued to prevent any teacher from using the approach in their classrooms.


Category: Winter 2017

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