October 25, 2018
Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t just want to look young, I also want to keep my brain young.
As students, your daily grind probably includes reporting, memorizing, learning new skills, and doing group work. Flexing our brain muscles may require hard work, but it doesn’t always have to be boring and difficult. The secret to learning is to know the learning style that fits your wiring and personality.
There are different learning styles, one of the well-known theories is the VAK learning style by Walter Burke Barbe and his colleagues. This theory emphasized the different modes of learning based on our senses, such as visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (or VAK). This link might help you know what kind of learner you are.
There is no right or wrong way of learning; as long as you’re learning, you’re doing a great job. But in your quest for knowledge and learning, here are some tips that can help you learn better based on your learning style:
1. Meaning over Memorizing
A 1973 study conducted by William G. Chase and Herbert A. Simon entitled Perception in Chess discovered the role of meaningful relations in superior memory performance.
In their study, a photo of a chess game was shown for five seconds to chess newbies and chess experts. The subjects were then asked to recall the chess pieces on the board. The chess newbies could only recall four chess items, while the chess experts remembered as many as twenty pieces on the board.
The study found that the experts’ better performance had nothing to do with photographic memory, but with their ability, from previous experience, to find meaningful relations between the chess pieces and their positions on the board. Interestingly, when a chess board with randomly arranged pieces was shown, both the experts and newbies had poor recall performance. Why? It’s because the experts can no longer attach meaning to the chess pieces on the board.
Our brain easily remembers images, activities, sounds, and stories that are meaningful to us.
If you are a visual learner, a highlighter can be your best friend! By color-coding the terms you need to memorize based on their importance, you can remember their categories easily. Creating flashcards or index cards may complement your highlighted reviewer.
On the other hand, for kinesthetic learners, memorizing can be associated with the activity you are doing as you study. You can play with a toy, squeeze a stress ball, or chew gum to associate terms and concepts you are studying to the movement you are making.
Meanwhile, auditory learners can repeatedly verbalize a term for retention or can start reading a list out loud to help remember formulas or terms.
When we attach what we’re learning to something that has meaning or is familiar to us, it will be much easier to remember the subject or the lesson. The key is not just to memorize, but to understand the concept or meaning.
2. Different over Difficult
You’ve probably experienced the pressure of seeing your classmates already working on a problem, while you haven’t figured out how to do it yet. Maybe, at one point, you thought yourself a slow learner, because it takes you more effort to learn something.
Here’s some good news: you’re not a slow learner! You might just learn differently from them. For instance, learning a song can be a piece of cake for auditory learners but not for others. This reveals the uniqueness of every learning style, but it also doesn’t limit learning.
If you are a kinesthetic learner, singing or dancing to the music will help you remember and learn. For visual learners, watching video tutorials will make this learning experience more enjoyable; while auditory learners can always listen to the song over and over again. This is a perfect time to learn difficult concepts differently and creatively.
3. Effectiveness over Efficiency
Learning new skills and understanding new concepts can be done in different ways even by people who have similar learning styles.
For instance, auditory learners rely on their listening skills in order to learn. But listening to a teacher in front of a classroom is different from listening to a podcast.
For visual learners, reading can be an easy task, but some visual learners prefer reading from an actual book than from a digital device.
Kinesthetic learners, on the other hand, learn best by touch or movements. But one may find it easier to learn while chewing gum than while doing something with his or her hand.
Some learning hacks are more efficient than others, but what you want to find is the answer to this question: what is more effective for you? Remember, the goal is to know what’s suitable for and effective to you. So go ahead and discover how you learn best.
Remember that learning is not just about how much you know, but about how much you understand. Learning is a posture of the heart. As long as your heart is willing to learn, you will have the eagerness to explore different learning styles to help you discover new things.
And whenever you feel like you’re stuck and cannot move forward, be reminded of this truth:
. . . the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.