Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

How learners learn

by : 
DanielT

When I was younger, I never paid any attention to my learning process - I just did what came naturally to me. In school, this meant that I would see a problem and try to solve it in my own way, using the clues given to me by my teachers and trying to piece together the answer, like a jigsaw. When I look back, I can see that this process was organic and relied upon me using the skills I had to their best advantage at the time, but I never felt in control of that process.

Now I am older, I am more aware of the type of learning I take part in; whether it be listening, speaking, reading, writing or doing something, I feel much more aware of the different ways in which I consume information. This means that I am able to direct my learning time in a more effective way, and I can steer it in a way that feels right. Sometimes I find myself reading a news article and wanting to find out more about it, so I will turn on the radio or a podcast to listen to the coverage of the event. Other times, I will speak with my friends about recent sporting events where I currently live and find that I want to write abut them to my friends back home. The point is, I choose which form of communication to use or consume, that suits me best in the individual circumstance.

This is a huge help to me in my profession as a teacher, as it means I can see the signs that other learners project and try my best to create a classroom environment that is comfortable for all. Some learners are visual (they learn by seeing something), which is why I always attempt to demonstrate the idea or intention of an activity visually. I find that using bright colours, clear writing and fun pictures really helps to create these connections in the best way. Other learners are auditory (they learn by hearing something), and for this reason I will explain the activity in words, perhaps even more than once. The words I use are simple and memorable, I speak clearly so that all can hear and I walk around the room to see if all the students understand.

By doing this, I do my best to create an environment that encourages learners to come out of their shell and feel comfortable in the classroom. In time, my hope is that this confidence transmits to a fuller and more meaningful understanding of the subject, and one that is more memorable. Finally, it is designed to begin to allow young learners that first opportunity to do what we all wished to do when we were younger; take control of our own learning.

Discussion

What kind of learner are you? Can you tell what kind of learner your teachers are from the way they teach?