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A Language Of Learning

A Language Of Learning

November 11, 2010 Jesper Ingerslev

I was a math teacher for almost ten years and I taught a new 10th grade every year. Every year I was amazed at how many of the kids didn’t understand the basic principles of calculating percentages and geometry. Many of the kids who struggled were able to say that “one percent is one out of a hundred”, but they couldn’t take it any further than that and consequently suffered defeat over and over again. Was it because they were just unable to understand it? I don’t think so. I think that school had neglected teaching them to understand what math is. What do you see (and do not see) when you look at the world through that lens. The kids had not been taught the language of math. The big breakthroughs came when a student all of a sudden fully understood a concept like percentages and was then able to solve a problem in a number of different ways.

When I discovered learning styles, and subsequently became a BE Qualified Trainer, I had that kind of aha moment breakthrough. The reason for this is that I was finally given a language to understand and talk about things that I hadn’t been able to see clearly before. Personally, I like to dig into theoretical stuff, but I always seemed to hit some kind of barrier when I sat down and started studying books ahead of lectures or classes. Learning styles gave me the insight that there were at least two methods I chose in studying that did not work for me. First, I am not very good at taking in complicated things via text. In addition, I am a strong auditive and visual learner. Second, I do not prefer to study sitting at my desk. But that was the way I was taught to study by people who succeeded using those methods. Then I started studying the hard theoretical things after lectures rather than before. I was much better at learning when I attended first presentations/lectures that included both verbal and visual aids such as models and graphs. When we were also given the opportunity to discuss (I also have a very strong verbal preference) what we had just seen and heard, I changed my learning habits and became much more successful.

The point I am trying to make is very simply that it is very difficult to change things if you do not have the framework for change. You need a language/framework to be able to grasp the world around you and to deal with it constructively. For me, learning styles is an example of such a language that helps each of us see ourselves through a different framework thus allowing us to see our preferred ways of learning and working through a different language. When you do that, you will find it easier to change things for the better for you and for others.