Ganging Up on Ignorance

I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.


Research has found three major learning styles: visual (seeing), aural (hearing), and kinesthetic (moving). Most people have a preferred or dominant style, though most things can be learned through any of the three. It helps to figure out your preferred learning style and where available, use it. Note: some skills are best or only learned through certain learning styles. Book learning is fine for history though it can be learned through any of the three (e.g. re-enactment for kinesthetic learning). The finer points of physical skills, e.g. woodworking, require at least some kinesthetic learning. You must learn how to saw straight by doing it, by feeling the saw binding, chattering in the cut, etc. Learning which is your preferred learning style and going with it is the first level.

A second, more effective way is to combine learning styles—ganging up on ignorance. In class, I hear the presenter, see their body language and writing on the blackboard, and write notes, lots of notes. Writing is a kinesthetic experience. Plus I see my notes.

For a reading assignment, I see the text and write copious notes, missing only the aural experience. Two out of three beats one out of three. Note that highlighting or underlines sections of reading is not as effective as taking notes because there is not as much kinesthetic involvement.

Even physical skills can benefit from notetaking. The martial art I studied required a notebook with all the required techniques and some variations. By requiring you to reflect on what your body had learned, your ability to describe (i.e., teach) it to someone else was improved.

Improved, affordable technology can help too. For a long time I felt that my martial art techniques were not as good as other people my rank. I felt a lot more mistakes in my techniques than I saw in theirs. This was a double standard. Much smaller mistakes can be felt than can be seen. When I saw myself in video recordings, I was judging us all by the same standard. My skill level was comparable to my peers.

When I first heard the quote at the beginning of this post, I thought the author was saying doing was best. Now I think he’s saying, all three are best.

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2 Responses to Ganging Up on Ignorance

  1. Pingback: Teaching Styles « Zen and the Art of Making a Life

  2. Pingback: Teaching Styles | Musings on the Path

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