I have unpopular news for you. Learning styles suck. If you’re like most people, you’re in complete disbelief about what I just said. You’ve heard about learning styles so often from teachers that you just figured there’s good evidence for them.
There isn’t…. Learning styles suck.
When I was in high school and college, I heard a lot about learning styles. They seemed to make sense, so I didn’t question them back then. Also, teachers were talking about them, and I was naive enough to think that teachers were experts in education so I figured there must be good evidence for them.
As I grew and matured, I started questioning them more and more… Are there really people who learn to recognize Bethoven’s 5th symphony visually? Can you really learn to recognize the state of Missouri through a detailed audio description?
It just didn’t add up. Learning styles seemed to apply more to content than to people. My BS detector was going off leading me to an undeniable conclusion:
Learning styles suck
Here’s one of the few rational people commenting on education practices today, Professor Daniel Willingham, talking about the learning styles myth.
I first heard of Willingham when I read his awesome book, Why Don’t Students Like School?. I read that book while going through ed school to become a teacher. I learned far more from that book than I did in any of my teacher classes. Far more…. It was a great antidote to all the BS they were throwing my way. Can you believe they NEVER mentioned ANY studies on memory in those classes? I mean, what the hell are teachers supposed to do if not get kids to remember new things!?
“Progressive” educators are so wedded to the learning styles hypothesis that they’ll argue against even logic and evidence as sound as what’s presented in the video above. Truly, the confirmational bias is very strong. Otherwise reasonable people will accept the flimsiest of arguments for anything they already believe while rejecting sound arguments for things they disagree with. And in few places does this go as unchecked by reality as it does in primary and secondary education. Educators get paid for having butts in seats, not for getting students to learn. And teacher evaluations don’t look at results; they look at whether you teach according to education dogma that progressive educators cling to despite the evidence.
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