Did your teachers make you feel dumb? Do you feel dumb? You’re probably not. If you’re like the typical student, your learning environment is probably to blame. Researchers have discovered that we have different learning styles and some of us aren’t very good at memorizing facts from a lecture or a book. That doesn’t make us dumb, though. We just have a different learning style.
Seven Learning Styles
Researchers have identified seven learning styles:
- Visual (or spatial) learners learn best from images
- Aural learners learn better when they can listen to music while they study
- Verbal learners absorb information by listening and speaking
- Physical (kinesthetic) learners prefer using their hands and the sense of touch
- Logical learners are the ones the rest of us are measured against. They prefer the language of logic and mathematics
- Social learners learn best in a group environment, so may be better suited to standard schooling
- Solitary learners do most of their learning in solitude.
Most of us have a mixture of learning styles. One person might put on their headphones and listen to music while they study at home. Another person might love mathematics, but also like to work in a group environment. Still another person may be a visual and physical learner. They will more than likely have a harder time in a confined school environment, but may discover their talents after they get out of school.
What’s Your Learning Style?
We all have to work for a living, but many of us are working in the wrong field. We may be making more money working in an office environment, but it gives us no pleasure. That may be because we have been taught to focus on the wrong thing. Since we spend so much time at work, we should work in an environment that suits our learning style.
One person may be a brilliant mathematician, but can’t change a spark plug. Another person might be a brilliant car mechanic, but hasn’t gotten beyond basic arithmetic. That doesn’t mean one is smarter than the other. It may just mean they have different learning styles. The mathematician is a logical learner while the mechanic is primarily a physical learner. It follows that the mechanic will thrive in a working environment where they can use their hands, but a mathematician would make a horrible mechanic and in that environment would be considered “dumb.”
If we’re happy in our working environment, we’ll tend to be happier in our lives, too. Unfortunately, we live in a world where we’re taught that money and status will make us happy. Using these as a yardstick for happiness can be a fatal mistake because many of us aren’t suited for work that pays well and confers status. We would be much happier doing work we enjoy.
Our predominant learning style can change over time, too. When we’re young, we may be very active and a classroom setting can be boring. When we get out of school, we learn a trade like building or carpentry. As we get older, we become less active and may do better as a project manager. It will require a different skill set, but since we usually have more than one learning style, we can adapt and learn to use verbal skills based on all the kinesthetic learning we did in our earlier career.
You can take complicated tests to discover your learning style, but maybe it’s better to just feel it out. What sorts of activities give you pleasure? What learning environment makes you feel more alive? We intuitively know what’s best for us. All we have to do is set aside the expectations of others and discover our own genius.