Another dot in the blogosphere?

71!

Posted on: April 29, 2021

Yes, 71!

That is not an exclamation of the number seventy-one. It is the factorial of 71, i.e., 71 x 70 x 69… etc.

71! is a huge number. The factorial calculator puts this at: 850,478,588,567,862,317,521,167,644,239,926,010,288,584,608,120,796,235,
886,430,763,388,588,680,378,079,017,697,280,000,000,000,000,000.

Can you imagine having to individually address this many different number of, say, learning variations among your students?



Well, you would have to if you blindly buy in to learning styles. According to this 2009 article by the Association for Psychological Science, there are 71 different models of learning styles.

If you take learning styles seriously, you would have to address every style in each model. 71! If you do not, you are ignoring a style that supposedly best suits that learner.

Thankfully for you, the same article categorically debunks learning styles based on the poor research designs of studies that claim to support learning styles.

This does not mean that people do not learn differently. They do, but not in the way that proponents of learning styles insist.

One takeaway from this old not not-cited-enough article is that it is both irresponsible and impractical to try to teach by learning styles. These have not been empirically established and there are far too many to address for every lesson.

Another takeaway is how some practices go unquestioned because they seem plausible. Why are questions not asked about the validity of learning styles? Perhaps teachers (and even teacher educators) do not know what they do not know. That is, they have not kept up with the research.

A teacher should not reach the age of 71 to realise that learning styles are a myth. That teacher would have retired by then. She would not be able to put her energies into better approaches or mentor younger teachers by modelling reflective and critical thinking.

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