and their Implication for Teachers
Pedagogical theory and practice have seen a great number of advancements over the past half-century, but perhaps the most significant of these is the recognition by educators that the teaching-learning process must be seen as a single transaction. In other words, if something has not been learned, then it has not been taught. Educators have taken ownership of the process and, in today's world, they accept that their teaching has not reached its objective, and they have not met their obligation, if all students have not learned the material at hand.
This approach to teaching and learning has forced educators to focus on how individual students learn. It has always been recognized, of course, that sensorial experience and activity are the fundamentals of anyone's learning process, whether child or adult, and effective teachers have always provided the opportunity for these in their lesson plans. It is only in recent years, however, that educational theory has focused on learning styles as a way of helping students who are not achieving normal learning objectives. If some children do not succeed well by one approach, then perhaps they will do better by another.
Educators normally refer to fundamental learning styles as auditory, visual, and tactile. It would be a mistake, however, to imagine that any individual student relies on a single style of learning. The reality is that humans learn through a variety of processes and all of them involve fundamental sensorial and motor components. What the teacher must realize is that some students require more sensorial or motor engagement than others in order to learn effectively.
Auditory instruction is by far the weakest in terms of reaching teaching-learning objectives. Even adults have difficulty listening to a speaker for any length of time. Most children are unable to listen and learn effectively without other stimuli, and a child who can succeed well through listening alone, an auditory learner, is a rare child indeed.
Visual perception is an essential component of the learning process for most people. Though blind persons, for example, are able to learn much about the world through other means, the formation of certain concepts are impossible for them. Educators over the past three centuries have considered visual stimulation to be the essence of concept formation, and it is for this reason that classroom teachers have always considered visual aids to be a basic necessity in any lesson.
Listening and seeing, then, are vital requirements in the learning process for most children and adults. But it is the hands-on approach that characterizes effective teaching in today's classroom. Though some students are identified as auditory or visual learners, the reality is that all children, and probably all adults, learn most effectively through practical involvement in the task at hand. Effective teachers everywhere understand the importance of providing tactile experience for their students. Certainly, some students may succeed quite well without a hands-on approach, but it is undeniable that learning is enhanced for all of them when an opportunity for tactility is added to auditory and visual instruction.
Learning styles are an important consideration to any teacher who is determined to succeed. Today's teachers are well trained and they know that they have not succeeded as long as some students have not reached the objectives of their teaching. A knowledge and understanding of the learning process, the importance of sensorial stimuli and activity, and a recognition of the significance of learning styles, will enable today's educators to succeed where perhaps their predecessors did not.
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