Skepticism And Education Series – Learning Styles Don’t Exist

It’s the 2nd January, and I’ve started the 365 Days of Philosophy website (both for WordPress and Tumblr, so you can choose what format you like). But in addition, I’m keen to focus a little more on education and myths this year, particularly after presenting in Berlin on pseudoscience within the field.

So, to start, you might like to check out this video from 2008 that caught my attention:

Over on 365 Days of Philosophy, I’ll be addressing another (somewhat related) myth about left/right brain dominance, because an article from Philosophy Now uses it as an analogy to explain how people define philosophy differently. Until then, enjoy watching and I’ll keep up a series on Skepticism and Education throughout the year (with more on the topic of Learning Styles, which has irked me for a while… and in fact cost me quite a bit in the past with books and resources!).

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Kinda Thinky – Now You Can Watch Online!
About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • TCC

    A very useful video – despite how ubiquitous this theory is in education (can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard teachers I’ve worked with talk about doing a learning styles inventory or about how useful it was), it really isn’t all that helpful. The only useful pedagogical insight that the idea of learning styles – or, more properly, modes of learning – has given me is the reminder that multiple formats may work better than simply one (which tends to be verbal). It may not always be a matter of learning better because of the mode; it may be better engagement because of a comfort or preference for a certain mode of presentation. I also have never found it useful to consider individual students’ learning styles (and I have consequently never done an inventory for that reason), but knowing that I may have students with different needs within a class is helpful.

  • mildlymagnificent

    Daniel Willingham is one of my favourites. I always look for his contributions in the American Educator even though I’m not a classroom teacher.

    Luckily you can search their back issues by his name. His stuff on maths is ex.cell.ent.

  • mildlymagnificent

    Oh, whoops! I meant to include a comment from the person I first heard about him from. The best use of learning styles is to use the style most appropriate to the subject being taught – geometry, drama, language are all best taught using the “style” most appropriate to the lesson topic. Even though we think of drama as mostly physical or kinetic, there are many lessons where the teacher will need to bring in history or visual elements of design and movement (from the audience’s perspective). Similarly for geography. Memorising the shape and location of countries, rivers, cities is all strongly visual, but there’s no getting away from the hard graft of the statistics of populations or industries or agriculture.