ISSUE 57 ISSN 1712-468
PO Box 418 Main, Stn A
Abbotsford, BC V2T 6Z7
PO Box 8000 PMB 386
Sumas, WA 98295-8000
Phone: 604-852-0566
Fax: 604-850-3003

Leaving Outmoded Learning Models Behind—Not Students!

Five years ago, my heart soared with incredible joy as I watched my son cross the platform at his high school graduation. We were proud he’d made it. Let’s just say he hadn’t excelled in the traditional learning model.

Early in our son’s learning adventure, we discovered his learning preference did not fit into the square box called school. He was not wired to sit and listen and memorize formulas, read 19th century novels, and regurgitate an outdated lesson plan.

Josh is an experiential learner. He needs to be able to relate what he is learning to his everyday life. He needs “hands-on” learning—to be actively engaged in the learning process, not sitting in some desk like a drone.

We discovered all that by Grade 4 . . . the first year of that dreaded piece of education called “the Science Project.” I am sure 90% of the parents reading this just felt shivers up their spine recalling those last-minute late nights putting their child’s project together.

The issue here is that we had a child who did not like rote learning; we needed a project he could learn and be able to communicate back to the teachers. We decided on static electricity.

How do you prepare a child who isn’t thrilled about school to understand the concepts of protons, electrons, neutrons, and atoms? We related them to an environment he thoroughly enjoyed—SPORTS!

Josh knew more facts and trivia about sports and its players than most adults. He lived and breathed sports. How could we use that knowledge to explain static electricity? With a little thought, we came up with the following.

  • The Pittsburgh Protons were playing a hockey match against the Edmonton Electrons, in the Atom Arena. The game was being refereed by those neutral officials, the Neutrons.

It worked! He received an “A” on his project—that from a kid who was pulling “Cs.”

We knew his issue wasn’t a learning disability; his in-depth sports knowledge told us that. The cause was an outdated mode of transferring knowledge—the teaching method—that assumes everyone learns the same way. Little effort is made to relate the learning to a person’s real world.

For years, some students who were wrongly labeled “poor learners” were being taught by instructors who did not teach the way those kids needed to learn.

Every single learner—from an elementary/middle-school student to an adult re-training for a new profession—should understand his or her preferred learning style to help intentionally create a learning environment that plays to his or her strengths and preferences.

At Consulting Resource Group (CRG), we have developed an excellent tool that does just that. With the Learning Style Indicator (LSI), you can

  • Learn How You Learn Best;
  • Understand the Four Different Learning Styles;
  • Confirm Your Specific Learning Style Pattern(s); and
  • Determine the Best Learning Environments and Instructors for You.

Who Can Use the LSI?

  • Any Student, age 14 and up
  • Employees
  • Instructors
  • Seminar Participants
  • Clients
  • Family Members

The LSI is a 12-page self-administered and self-scored assessment.

Not only should every learner complete the LSI, every instructor, educator, teacher, parent, speaker, facilitator, coach, leader, and supervisor should understand the needs and wants of each of the 21 learning style patterns.

We constantly hear how we need to throw more money into our learning systems. This is not just about overcrowded classrooms, underfunded programs, lack of resources, and countless other symptoms. It is about getting to the base of learning and understanding that you and I likely learn differently.

Until a conscious effort is made to apply that revelation, more kids will be left behind—not because of a lack of resources but a lack of knowledge on how they learn best.

Two Follow-up Notes on Josh

I was sitting next to the principal at one of our son’s final basketball games. As we chatted, the principal said he wished the school had more students like Josh. That made me proud as a parent.

He said our son was polite and a great contributor to the school’s community. As far as his academics were concerned, he said that boys usually figure out the academic side later in life. In other words, the school system is not set up to properly train boys who need more hands-on and experiential learning.

Josh is now enrolled at the University of the Fraser Valley in the Agriculture program. He loves farming. He is doing well in school and excelling on the farm.

Why? Most of the classes are out in the field where he gains hands-on experience . . . and the things he is studying relate to his real-life experience. He gets up in 3:30 AM to go milking and works 11 to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, without complaint.

We are starting a new academic year. Company training will ramp-up in the Fall. Why not give your learners a leg-up? Take the time to understand their learning style. Not only will it benefit them, I guarantee you will find your task much more enjoyable when those you teach begin to learn—many for the first time—in a way that allows them to excel in understanding and applying your key concepts in meaningful ways.

Learning Style Indicator (LSI)

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