Identifying your learning style

How to maximize your learning potential by understanding what works best for you.

Like to Learn but hate to be taught?

I’m paraphrasing Winston Churchill here, but it’s a serious question im asking.

I’m a lifelong learner who firmly believes that every day is a school day. The issue is that I hate to be taught, or at least I hate to be taught in a standard classroom setting.

My own personal preference is to learn by reading or to learn by doing. It took me many years to figure out that I wasn’t wrong in my approach , its just that the one size fits all solution to learning doesn’t work well for some of us.

I’m guessing this may be the case for anyone kind enough to read this.

Here’s the thing, we are all different, if the world was full of the same people it would be a pretty boring place and nothing innovative would ever happen.

Fortunately that’s not the case, we are all different and our brains work in different ways.


Learning to love being taught, just takes some simple self analysis

Yes its possible for anyone to love being taught, you just need to find what works for you.

This requires a bit of analysis, but the good news is that there are resources online to help with that you just need to search the 2 main theories which are the VAK theory and the Honey and Mumford theory. Personally I would recommend you try both and see which learning styles out of both theories you recognize, as their are strategies you can develop from both.

VAK — Visual, Auditory & Kinesthetic

The VAK theory suggests that the majority of people can be divided in to one or more of 3 styles of learning which you may have guessed are either, Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic.

  • Visual learners, have a strong preference for visual data and observation of a task. Typically learning best from pictures, video, diagrams, presentations, displays and hand outs. A visual learner will often use phrases while they are learning like “Show me” or “Let me look at that”. Visual learners tend to be more structured in their work and approach to learning using lists, directions and instructions.
  • Auditory learners, have a strong preference for the transfer of information verbally. Typically learning from lectures and spoken word from an expert. An auditory learner will often use phrases while they are learning like “tell me” or “Let’s talk it over”. Auditory learners tend to be more happy receiving verbal instructions in their work, and have a strong connection between verbal information and memory retention. Most auditory learners for example know all the words to the songs they know.
  • Kinesthetic learnings, have a strong preference for physical experiences, they learn by touching and by doing, they value practical hands on experiance. A Kinesthetic learner will often use phrases while they are learning like “let me try” or “how do you feel”. Kinesthetic learners tend to be those who dive into a new task learning as they go. These learners love to experiment, are always hands on and never look at the instructions first.

Honey & Mumford

In the honey & mumford theory there are 4 learning styles and each person will have one dominant learning style, with a mix of the other 3 styles sitting in the back ground. These learning styles are known as the Activist, Reflector, Theorist & Pragmatist.

  • An activist leaner, will learn best from new activities and experiences where they have high visibility, for example chairing a meeting. Activist learners like to be involved in games and teambuilding, basically anything competitive where they can work with others.
  • A reflector, will learn best from new activities and experiences where they are allowed to watch, think and observe others. Reflectors like to be able to review and think about what they have learned before they act.
  • A theorist learner, will learn best from new activities and experiences, where there is an obvious model or system that they can follow, and where there is enough time to explore the relationship between ideas and events. Theorists like to ask questions and to know that their is a clear purpose to and reason for the learning.
  • A pragmatist learner, will learn best from new activities and experiences, where there is an obvious link between what they are learning and their work environment. Pragmatists like practical techniques for problem solving and like to put into practice what they have learned.

I know that’s a lot to get through but bear with me, once you do the online analysis which will take maybe 30 minutes of you life, you will have a whole new insight into what works for you and why.

I recognize in myself for example that im a Kinesthetic learner in VAK and an Activist Learner with some Pragmatist learner traits in Honey & Mumford.

The great thing is that this simple understanding has helped me set expectations for myself in an educational setting. It can help you as well.

Final thoughts

I know that the information on learning styles is a lot to get through in a quick read, but knowing our learning styles is so important.

Its not our ability to learn that slows our learning potential, its being forced to learn in a way that simply does not work for us, that slows our learning potential.

These system’s are set up with adults in mind, but they work great with kids as well. Anyone who is struggling in, or struggles with education at any level and at any age, can significantly improve their changes of success, by understanding their learning type and then putting the strategies in place to make sure that they learn that works for them.

It could be follow up work on you tube online, it could be practical examples, it could be getting out of theory and doing a task.

Whatever works for you. I personally think its worth sharing this information because in the last 3 years since I discovered this was out there, its made a huge difference for me, if you are reading this and some of it resonates with you, then take the 30 minutes online to do some research, it could be life changing.

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