Understanding how we learn can unlock many opportunities and stop us from berating ourselves for not doing things the way we think we “Should”. The word should, should be used with caution…it’s a slippery slope but I’m getting way off track here. Lets get back to understanding how we learn.
Have you ever thought about how you LIKE to learn or what feels natural to you? Are you someone who can pick up a book, follow diagrams and move forward with the making? Do you like to listen rather than read? If someone shows you how to do something can you pick it up and go with it? Do you need to read, write and listen to really absorb new information?
Do you learn by connecting with the person, thing or idea?
What are your biggest obstacles to learning? How do you identify or define them? Maybe you haven’t given much thought to how you learn, since you may no longer be in school but learning remains a big part of life for many of us, whether we are learning for professional reasons, creative reasons or are just curious by nature (that’s ME!).
There are 7 basic learning styles described below and shared directly via Learning Styles Online, where a wealth of more in dept info can be found if your deeply interested!
Seven Learning Styles
- Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
- Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
- Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
- Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
- Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.
In addition to these 7 styles, Experiential learning techniques utilize a variety of the learning styles above but are more specifically defined as “learning through reflection on doing“. Experiential learning and “teaching” through skills transference are a big part of the hands-on organizing process, though experiential learning can exist without a teacher. This type of learning gained more influence in the early 70’s through the research of David Kolb (no relation to the Kolbe personality testing). There are additional learning styles defined within the Kolb experiential learning method, more can be found on them here. Some of his findings share similar theories understood about personality types, which is partially what led me to want to share this information. If you missed my recent post about personality types, see it here.
Kolb states “that in order to gain genuine knowledge from an experience, the learner must have the four abilities described below:
- Concrete Experience: The learner must be willing to be actively involved
- Reflective Observation: The learner must be able to reflect on the experience
- Abstract Conceptualization: The learner must possess and use analytical skills to conceptualize the experience
- Active Experimentation: The learner must possess decision making and problem solving skills in order to use the new ideas gained
In most cases when someone wants to become more organized, they have an interest in learning the skills needed and are willing to try new systems as well as reflect on how the process worked for them. This type of learning is familiar in the professional organizing world largely because this type of work is often self motivated, requires reflection, analytical skills to visualize the outcome and problem solving to make adjustments to new systems or processes.
The questions below are helpful in the reflection phase and are defined as the five stage experiential learning cycle:
- Did you notice…?
- Why did that happen?
- Does that happen in life?
- Why does that happen?
- How can you use that?
Recently, there have been quite a few recent articles written discrediting learning styles as myth. Some of these new theories don’t discredit learning styles completely (some have) and others have shifted towards Learning Strategies, which might actually be a more accurate way to think about how we learn!
Mostly, I think it’s important to understand why we want to learn, how we learn and what we can do to better support our unique, personal process of learning. Science and technology may determine that some of what has been largely adopted as truth may not be fully accurate for all of us. I’d have to agree with that because as much as these theories might seem concrete, how we learn in real time will be deeply affected by so many factors, I for one am grateful for people who want to keep learning about learning. I’ve found some great articles written on the site Learning Science if you want to dive deeper.
Ultimately, it’s incredibly helpful when we can better understand our own learning process. Giving a bit of thought to how you learn can make learning much easier and more fun.
What do you know about your learning style or learning strategies? Do you fit neatly into one category or do you find you are a combination of different learning styles or strategies?