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Learning styles-what's yours?

 
steward
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Paul's threads on the PEP and our discussion of the value of teaching as part of the learning process, and DLogan's thread on PDCs got me thinking about teaching of permaculture topics. I just finished another round of teaching photography to adult learners. It took me several iterations of teaching this course to find my way through everything I need to cover in the allotted 6 hours. The hardest part is the first 90 minutes, in which I (incredibly to some other teachers) go through the concept of exposure from fully automatic to manual control. By the end, they all can do it...but it can be rough for some along the way. Why?

When I started this gig, I was taught that people have preferences for how they learn. There are loads of theories on learning styles. I can break down what I see to a few main types on how they prefer to intake and process information:

-aural (biggest percentage, probably self-selected by the fact they are paying for classroom learning. Reading the manual is their last resort, the most social learners. I seat the class by camera brand on purpose so they can help each other)
-visual (readers, often arrive frustrated by the poorly written manuals they've tried to read on their own, furtively reading my handouts while I lecture. I spend a lot of time contextualizing and debunking the internet for them)
-kinesthetic (they understand it only when they see the settings change by their own hands, they often aren't listening to me half way through my explanation because they are experimenting with their cameras now that they have an idea of what button to twiddle. Ask questions out of their observations to build up their own general understanding)
-theoreticians (one group that doesn't really fit. They could be any of the three in intake preferences. These folks must understand theory before they will touch their cameras, they are surprised, almost resistant when I tell them to pick it up in the first minutes of class. They love it when I go into the underlying mathematics that frighten some of the others.)

None of these people or styles are wrong. Expecting everyone to learn like me is the Type 1 error. Now managing all of these different kinds of learners at one time gets chaotic. We limit the class to 10 for that reason so I can spend time with the social and kinesthetic learners. Early on, I needed to add more structure for the the theoretical learners. And I always seem to find myself pleading with someone in the group: don't fret about it, just mull it in your mind. I promise lightning will strike and illuminate it for you, I just can't predict when. Hang with me until then. After it does, you won't be able to remember not understanding. The head chatter of fretting (more common in women, I don't know why. Or maybe they are just more vocal about self-doubt that they will ever understand.) is counterproductive, just mull it over. Some of them need to take a break and come back to it after we do a few other modules. Lightning always does seem to strike for them by the end of class.

Now retention is a different thing. I can tell you how, explain why, draw it for you, show you where to read it, demonstrate it for you, but until you do it with your own hands, you won't really remember how to set your shutter speed. There are some that want me to do it for them. I hand them their cameras back, saying as nicely as I can, "I don't need to know how to work your camera, you do."

Being aware of these preferences has made me a better teacher. I know I need to offer up the information in 4 different ways to meet all their needs, and that's ok. Some students who "get it" one way aren't always patient with their classmates who need a different approach, but I have to be there for everyone in parallel. Loads of praise all around works wonders.

So that's my story. Not having finished my PDC yet, I am wondering how my experience compares to those who teach PDCs and other topics, especially to adults. How do you accommodate the various types in your classes? How you go about learning new things yourself (I'd much rather read it first than watch Youtube videos, for example)? Do you have a spouse or child that learns in a different mode than you? Has your style changed over the years?
 
pollinator
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Ann Torrence : My educational experience is in no-way unique, I hated school, the teachers worked hard, spending their time on the kids that 'got it', with always
some left over for the kids that 'might get it'

Around 5th grade- Mrs Pat Hart told the whole class that I and a pal Joe Randell, were Pepper, she expected us to go through the entire system irritating it all the
way, and arrive at the far end unchanged ! She was absolutely Correct !

It wasn't until I got in the service and discovered 1) Task (to be done); 2) Conditions (under which the TASK would be done) ; 3) Standards (to be met )
that Education finally clicked for me !

A child is like a sponge soaking up knowledge -right up to the point we beat it out of them! Adult Education is Fun, before you can teach them that next fact they
have to understand why they need to know that next fact !

Two great teaching Techniques came out of WW11, as we trained up an entire nation to support our soldiers, sailers, and marines !

The first adaptation of mass teaching was ''Tell them what you are going to tell them', 'tell them', and then, 'tell them what you told them!'

This technique can lend itself to a certain authoritarian style, but if the listener believes in the honesty and experience and advanced skill level of the teacher this
often works !

The other mass teaching Technique strongly favors the tactile ,or hands on group the ''Here, Let ME see it! " Group This is the See one, Do one, Teach one, mostly
this gets honored when you find the first one in your group that understands the subject and you make them peer instructors !It is often helpful to slow down the
ones first done by using them as peer instructors!

I strongly favor finding related experiences, and 2nd and third ways to try and get the message across ! I try as often as possible to get them to tell me in their
own words what they think they have learned, The "you haven't learned it until you can explain it to your grandmother !'' Rule !

With careful effort you can turn a bunch of individuals into a group with a common Task, usually this will carry the group through to ITS goal !

For the Good of the Crafts Big AL !
 
gardener
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I believe we go about education in a backwards way. Children don't want to "learn". They just want to live. Like sponges they soak everything up, learning without realizing.
Once we get older, and we know so many pieces of the Giant Puzzle that is the Universe and all it Contains, we want to know more.
We actively, intentionally seek out specific information. We see connections we never could when we were younger.
Wisdom and experience and all that jazz.

I learn in a convoluted method. I like to absorb bits and pieces until a big picture starts to show up. Once I understand enough to grasp the overall view, I dig in for the nitty gritty.
So I might read short blog and magazine articles, watch videos (under 20 minutes long usually), and visit forum discussions.
Then I'll read longer more inclusive articles and watch longer videos and make notes, and notes, and notes, and charts, and graphs, and notes.
After that I might read a book or devour websites specifically for that topic, take a course/workshop, or get hands on, if it's something to be physically applied.

My kids are completely different. One is so visual and one is all about hands on. Neither care much about theory. They want to see it and touch it.
It makes for some... interesting homeschool days occasionally.
 
steward
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Ann Torrence
steward
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Miles, that was fun and I never would have guessed this:
Auditory: 35%
Visual: 35%
Tactile: 30%

Either I learn easy or nothing really works!
 
steward
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Auditory: 10%, I never listen and nobody can tell me anything
Visual: 35%
Tactile: 55%, yup this is me alright. Probably why I like woodworking, gardening, cooking. This is how I train and teach: hands on.
 
pollinator
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I don't know if I exactly know, ya know? I just love learning. Whatever it is has to demand my interest and do so at the moment. Real and present. Sometimes I love laying back and just having a lecture wash over me. Good diction; sharp photos graphs, tables. I think I've already stated love for maps. I can fall right into one. All great ways of learning information say I.

I also attest to the efficacy of learning through doing and being. Making that mind body connection is key. Also just being able soak in surroundings. Whether an ecosystem or professional shop. It just osmotes and the 'right' of it resonates. I mean, It's in noticing that certain slope aspects have certain tendencies in regaurds to flush size picking up a better technique out of the corner of ones eye working along side a peer or pro. I know when its time to go a pickin' some mushrooms based on the smell - Seriously, my nose knows when the time is best by the 'feel' (in my nostrils!) and scent when the moisture and temperature is just right. The perfect damp. Any of countless things or synthesis of things which are, for me at least, the only way to learn skill. With physical repetition. The whole Acting + Conscious Questioning + subconscious absorption thing works absolute wonders for me. I swear

Recently, and for the first time in ages, I've had need to go through written text meticulously, bit by bit, and piece by piece. I found it both frustrating (never been my forte, despite being detail oriented) and exhilarating. It demanded my real interest. Still learning.

Real interest is absolutely key though or, to my mind, it will immediately be dismissed and forgotten, never come to anything practicable, or be filled away forever for god know why. For whatever reason retention comes naturally to me so long as I have a real and actual interest to me.
 
Landon Sunrich
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allen lumley wrote:

It wasn't until I got in the service and discovered 1) Task (to be done); 2) Conditions (under which the TASK would be done) ; 3) Standards (to be met )
that Education finally clicked for me !



Yeah, I really really like when things are laid out like that by someone who I feel is competent to both make the decision and clearly explain what is necessary to accomplish said task. I personally don't like taking charge unless I am fully confident in my ability to do so. I love accomplishing things and pushing the pace though and have learned much both directly through experience and via absorption of surroundings. I'll tell you what I'm not thinking about when I'm bunching beets. Bunching beets. But the soils and the weeds and the moisture and the cloud cover and I've never noticed that bug before I wonder....

 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Ann Torrence wrote:

-theoreticians



Yeah, there are defiantly things I will not touch without feeling like I have a firm grasp of theory first. Law, governance, pruning.
 
pollinator
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I've thought about my favorite ways of learning practical things, hand skills, stuff like that - because we had a discussion about this on another homesteading site on which I’m a member.

My parents both came from rural families, but opted for the city (and later, large-town) life. Particularly my dad wanted to forget about getting dirty and physically worn-out by the end of the day… so much so that he passed on only a small number of hand skills to me. As a young guy I chose to go live on a farm, and at that point got some gardening mentorship from the farm family. Over the years, I learned a bunch of good stuff (carpentry, electrical, water systems, plumbing) from friends my own age, too. I like personal demonstration and instruction best because I can ask questions along the way, or my mentor can point out errors or inefficiencies in my attempts.

My personal attitude - after learning directly from a person (parent, teacher, friend, etc) - is that the next best would often be something like a DVD or Youtube video (or series of them). To me audio-visual media, like films and videos, are better than books or articles because skillful use of the camera shows the viewer actions in motion and usually provides three-dimensional views. And I like the conversational tone of the voice-over on modern instructional vids.

I've been a book lover nearly all my life, but I have to admit that I'd tend to give book or magazine articles "third best" position when I want to learn practical stuff. But printed info, like people or videos, can definitely help you not to waste your time "reinventing the wheel" through pure trial-and-error! I often like books on-hand for reference, even when I learn the basics of doing something from a person or a video. Especially with something like, say, house or shop wiring - that I'm likely to have plenty of involvement with, but maybe not steadily. And, besides, learning the basics and getting all the details can at times be different matters.

So, let's see... there's learning by trial and error, there's learning by being taught by someone, also learning from books or magazines, and learning from videos. And then there’s learning on the sly.

I was watching a guy I know who has a lot of skills. He was changing the way the air lines for the pneumatic tools in a shop were routed and set up, lines that were bringing compressed air to a work bench. Problem: he’s sort of a man of few words, who is kind of shy and has little patience for teaching anyone things. But being able to stand there and watch him was great, because I already had a background of experience with that sort of thing. So I could pick up on his ideas (design approach, some of the hardware he was using).

I hope these thoughts aren’t off-base for what the OP in this thread was about, or too redundant of what’s already been posted. But I do think this is an interesting topic.
 
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