Saturday, May 10, 2014

Can We Finally Bury The "Learning Styles" Myth?

Gardner himself has said it:
Multiple Intelligences Are Not Learning Styles, he wrote last year.
Perhaps it makes teachers feel that everyone can learn…which we know they can… but it also creates an easy fix for students who struggle. There really aren’t easy fixes. Students, whether they struggle or not, need a multi-modal approach.
Gardner wants teachers to individualize instruction as much as possible and “teach important materials in several ways, not just one (e.g. through stories, works of art, diagrams, role play).” However, he asks teachers to stop using “styles,” because “it will confuse others and it won’t help either you or your students.”


allen (in Michigan) said...

I think "myth" is the right word.

Certainly Gardener's Multiple Intelligences isn't a theory. That would require that an experiment be performed which verifies Gardener's Multiple Intelligences hypothesis or that a prediction be made based on Gardener's Multiple Intelligences hypothesis and that subsequent observations verify the hypothesis.

But that's old, fuddy-duddy thinking. The sort of thing to which chemists and physicists are addicted. In the world of the ed school it's catching the fickle fancy of the public education community that determines validity.

Or rather, popularity. Validity's such a constraining word. Like "accountability".

maxutils said...

I'm not sure it's a question of 'intelligences,' but rather how the student reacts to the teacher. Teaching using different styles is probably a good idea ... but if the teacher is uncomfortable with the style, it won't work. It will seem unnatural and weird. On the other hand, that's why I believe that students should have some say in whom they get to have teach them, particularly in high school. At mine? we had a sign up day, and you got to pick your teachers in order of class level ... you had to prioritize, because if the classes filled up, you didn't get in. A teacher who is great for one student may be horrible for another. Doesn't necessarily mean the teacher is bad. When I took Precalc the first time, I absolutely understood nothing ... but the guy who taught me the second time made everything click. And it was absolutely due to different teaching styles.