Common current thinking believes that every person has a preferred learning style, a mode of learning in which they absorb information best. Some say that there are 3 styles or 4 and others say that there are 7 styles or 8 and others say that there are 71 different models. And whilst educators are busy working hard to present each lesson in a myriad of ways so as to engage as many pupils as they can, we have an opportunity to really observe our children and respond to their need or preference in the moment.
Neil Flemming popularised the idea of learning styles during the early 1990’s and began with Visual, Auditory, Reading/writing and Kinesthetic learning styles. It has since evolved to also include Linguistic, Naturalist, Musical, Logical, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Learners. And some use much broader terms such as, learning styles, cognitive styles, perceptual style and thinking styles (The Handbook of Intellectual Styles, Zhang, Steinberg, Raynor) It became a useful tool within education to label individual learners into a defined number of categories and present lesson material in a way that they should find accessible and therefore succeed in teaching. Further research suggests that although individuals do have learning preferences they are often complex and responsive to the material that they are learning and the environment that they are learning in. We also appear able to convert material presented one way into our preferred mode of learning.
As unschoolers, we are primarily concerned with our own children, as we get to know them and respond to the information that they give us we will ourselves learn more about their individual preferences. We need only to respond to them in each moment based on the information they are giving us. We do the things they enjoy and provide more opportunities for them to do them and we do those activities for as long as they are enjoying them. We might not be able to define scientifically what their learning style is but it is possible that we will come to know which of our children is energised by social gatherings and those who prefer to work alone, we will recognise those that enjoy building their ideas and remodelling, and those that prefer to discuss at length new ideas. Our children have freedom and agency to interact with the world in a way that works for them and we have the ability to respond to them as unique people. We have the opportunity to provide them with experiences and opportunities that are in line with the things that they enjoy doing and tailor their education to their own unique selves.
Support self expression
Being the bridge not the gatekeeper
Living together when everyone is different
Supporting self expression (coming soon)
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