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Posts Tagged ‘learning styles

It has been said that there is a fool born every minute. There might be a similar reproduction rate for charlatans.

Recently, I received a snail mail flyer from one such charlatan, an “enrichment” centre. How do I know that it was a charlatan? It offered, amongst other things, the following: 

I share partial screenshots of the flyer that featured the debunked theory of learning styles and curriculum booklets supposedly enabled by augmented reality (AR).

This set of links and my summary are enough authority on why learning styles are a myth. I will say no more because they are a waste of time and energy.

The use of AR is sneakily seductive because even “highly engaged parents” will a) not know what exactly that means, and b) be fooled by bells and whistles. 

I would wager that most parents have not heard of frameworks like TPACK by Mishra and Kohler (2006) (PDF from Mishra) or about Kirshner et al’s (2004) educational affordances of technology. If they did, they might realise that the pedagogy has not caught up with the technological hype.

Someone from the “enrichment” centre might know of these frameworks. But they ignore critical practice and educational research in favour of distraction with a new and shiny object.

Extraneous tuition and “enrichment” are already rooted as shadow schools in Singapore, so parents are willing to pay for them. There is a saying that a fool and his money are soon parted. I can only hope that more parents engage with knowledge of critical practice and rigorous research. They and their kids will be richer for it.

Some education heroes critique and share on TikTok.

Dr Inna Kanevsky is my anti-LSM hero. LSM is my short form for learning styles myth.

In her very short video, she highlighted how teachers perpetuate the myth of learning styles despite what researchers have found.

In the Google Doc she provided, she shared the media and peer-reviewed research that has debunked this persistent but pointless myth.

If your attitude is to ask what the harm is in designing lessons for different “styles”, then you are part of the problem — distracting the efforts of teachers and promoting uncritical thinking and uninformed practice.

Video source

This video debunking the learning styles myth does not bring up anything new if you have been keeping up with the research on it.

However, the issues are explained by a popular science educator and YouTuber. Perhaps his manner and his reach will create a greater awareness among students and teachers alike that they are wasting their time and effort on a myth.

I am constantly on the lookout for resources that are relevant to courses that I facilitate. 

One series of modules on ICT for Inclusion is a few months away, but I already have more new resources than I can share in the short time that I have with my students. So I embed just some of them here.

Video source

Video source

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The first two videos highlight the ways that various technologies enable differently-abled folk to live their lives. I like that they are local examples and will connect with my learners.

The third video is of a well-known YouTuber. He is not a local lad, of course, but he represents a faction of people who do not consider their “disabilities” to be disabilities. It reinforces my message that we need to focus on what students with special needs can do or might do, instead of what they cannot.

I am also reminding myself that I have a reflection on the myth that is learning styles. I curated several resources and linked them one to another after I kept hearing more and more pre- and in-service teachers tout this falsehood.

Rising above, what I have done illustrates the difference between merely bookmarking or collecting resources, and actually curating them. It is easy to collect and just as easy to forget that these resources exist. It is more difficult but far more meaningful to see how they fit together to teach a lesson or two.

This timely tweet reminded me to ask some questions.

Other than “learning styles”, are career guidance programmes here going to keep wasting taxpayer money on Myers-Briggs tests for students and the same training for teachers?

Are people who claim to be edtech, change, or thought leaders still going to talk about “21st century competencies” and “disruption” this decade?

Might people keep confusing “computational thinking” or “authoring with HTML” with “coding”?

Will administrators and policymakers lie low in the protection and regulation of the privacy and data rights of students?

Are vendors going to keep using “personalised learning” and “analytics” as catch-all terms to confuse and convince administrators and policymakers?

Are sellers of “interactive” white boards still going to sell these white elephants?

Are proponents of clickers going to keep promoting their use as innovative pedagogy instead of actually facilitating active learning experiences?

I borrow from the tweet and say: Please don’t. I extend this call by pointing out that if these stakeholders do not change tact, they will do more harm than good to learners in the long run.

A while ago I wondered out loud about offering teachers a series of professional development workshops on The Pedagogy of Questions.

I have since extended my list of potential workshops by three:

  • The Harm of Homework
  • The Myths of Learning Styles
  • The Problems With Current Curriculum Designs

All three will seem counterintuitive because they challenge established practice. All three are based on emerging research and progressive practice.

Each workshop would follow a similar pattern: Bring hidden problems to the surface, suggest well-informed solutions, and roadmap real change in schools.

I call the problems hidden because teachers and school leaders might not realize that there are problems or wrong mindsets to correct. Most teachers accept homework as a given, blindly believe in learning styles, and accept current curricula as gospel truth.

When the scales have fallen from their eyes, they will invariably seek solutions and alternatives. They cannot heal old wounds or fill gaps with snake oil. The solutions must be based on rigorous research, critical comment by thought leaders, and reflections of progressive practitioners.

Identifying problems and finding solutions are not enough. There must be a concerted plan to change and sustain those efforts.

Side note: I will be away on family vacation soon, but I am scheduling blog entries so that faithful readers have something to chew over while my mind and body wander elsewhere.

RSS feeds delivered these useful resources. I am putting them online as I also use my blog as idea cloud that I can revisit.

Online teaching tips

Do students cheat more in online classes? Maybe not.

Student “learning styles” theory is bunk


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