A commonly accepted idea in the education world about learning has been proven to be a myth, Valerie Strauss reports for the Washington Post.
The notion that there are visual learners, kinesthetic learnings, or other types is incorrect, but it persists. The idea originated from misinterpretations of a book by Howard Gardner, a well-known Harvard University psychologist, called Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Despite the fact that even Gardner himself rejected the idea of learning styles, 76% of educators still believe it, according to research on the topic by Daniel Willingham, a cognitive scientist and professor of psychology at the University of Virginia.
Willingham wrote about his experience researching the topic in the Post. In his essay, he cites a survey by several researchers on
3 myths about student success, debunked
neuromyths, which he defines as common misconceptions about learning or the brain. It was the first survey of its size (3,048 participants in sum) to provide evidence of the widespread belief in learning styles by educators.
Why is the myth so pervasive? Willingham has a few ideas. First, it's a myth that, on its face, seems like a settled fact, like atomic theory. In other words, everyone believes it but most people don't bother to look into its validity. This is especially true when the myth comes from authority figures in our lives, he writes.
Second, the myth is particularly seductive. It seems like a silver bullet, which will solve all of our student success problems, Willingham writes.
Finally, the myth matches our experience somewhat, when you think from the perspective of ability. For example, some people are great at analyzing graphs and charts, while others are great at analyzing lectures and asking questions—but these do not correlate to learning styles, Willingham writes (Strauss, Washington Post, 9/5).
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