Saturday, July 19, 2008

Learning Styles and Teaching Styles

Today I saw the need for different learning styles and teaching styles in action. I thought it was interesting how they voiced a need for a different style out of me, and I was able to do what I could to accomodate it.

In the world of MCAS, No Child Left Behind and centralized testing of curriculum outcomes, the learning objectives come from the top and get delivered to the people below, whether the people below are teachers or students.

What I am seeing with Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn, there is little of the top/bottom hierarchy in the structure. "We want to learn it by doing it, not by hearing it". That works for me, but it does make for a tricky situation of making sure that "everybody gets It" Who defines the 'It' that they are getting?

If people demand not to have hardly any lecture based delivery of information and then start side conversations and other off topic activities, then it is probably not about learning styles and teaching styles, its probably more about control of the situation and other behavior issues. If a goal is framed, but not worked towards effectively, then what is the problem? Is the search for information not being treated seriously, or is there a problem with learning tools and techniques? Is it not okay for participants to ask the questions they need to get the results they have framed as goals?

In a lot of public school learning situations, the emphasis has really become 'results based learning'. Some call it teaching to the test. Students should know this that and the other thing, and here is how they will get there. In the l2t/t2l environment, the learners are framing a lot of the goals. This can be a messy, exciting business. With everybody heading to the goal in their own direction, they all can learn creatively and come up with novel solutions to the problems they face.

In this technique and process, some people can fall or slip through the cracks. They may not understand the goals (fall), or they may not agree with them (slip). In either case, it is possible for them to quietly (or sometimes not so quietly) dodge the goal and not get it done, or get it done poorly, or let their groupmates do it for them.

I would be very interested in getting your feedback on this. I am also looking for the right place to park this type of written work online. I would rather have a community of writers than a solo effort. Care to join me?

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