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A prevalent neuromyth is that of “learning styles.”
According to this belief, people can be classified by how they learn best and should concentrate their educational efforts in that mode. If someone is an auditory learner, the idea goes, she’ll master a subject or skill faster and more effectively by listening to lectures than reading books or through first-hand experiences.
The idea of learning styles has infected our education systems and people’s understanding of themselves. And psychologists worry this can have consequences in our lifelong-learning pursuits.
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People prefer brain-based accounts of behaviour, and they like to categorize people into types. Learning styles allow people to do both of those things.
There is a grain of truth to the myth. Namely, people do differ in their abilities and preferences. The VARK learning model, for example, classifies people as either visual, auditory, reading/writing, or kinesthetic (hands-on) learners. Each method is part of the learning process...
Engage with subjects in as many material ways as possible. Read, converse, seek out examples, get hands-on, and experiment. While we may have preferences, we should also challenge ourselves to try new methods and re-engage with less-favoured ones.
Why then does the learning styles myth survive despite the evidence and experts’ red-faced arguments? Because like all neuromyths, it tells us something we want to believe.
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