Greater Things | August 30, 2022

by Susan McDonald on August 30, 2022

Several years ago, I was sitting at a stop light at a busy intersection during a heavy down pour.  I looked to my left and there was a lady standing in the rain waiting to cross the street. She was soaked to the bone. I pulled over, rolled down my window, and handed her one of the many umbrellas I had in my car (side note: I carry many umbrellas because I cannot get my hair wet; I look like a drowned rat due to the amount of, “will-stop-a-bird-in-flight” hair-spray I use! But, I digress…).  What the lady did next astounded me.  She thanked me, put the unopened umbrella under her arm and continued walking down the street in the pouring rain.  I sat there and watched her until she was out of sight!  She never opened the umbrella! 

At dinner that night, I shared my story with my husband.  He is an analytical thinker (I am not) and he said, “Why would she use the umbrella? She was already soaked. The umbrella wouldn’t have helped at that point.”  Hmmmm.

In part one of this article, I talked about how we each have different personalities and how we should never buy into the adage of “one size fits all,” especially in education.  The objective of part two of this article is to focus on how we think, or maybe better said, how we process information. 

Brain researchers tell us that information is processed in three different ways: linguistic (hear it), visual (see it), and kinesthetic (do it).  I am 100% a visual learner, even to the point of when someone is reading to me, I process about half of what they say. However, if I have the text in front of me while they read, I process 100% of what they say.  My husband is linguistic (auditory); he can sit for hours in a conference and listen to a speaker and retain everything that was said, all without writing any notes.  But, what about the learners/thinkers who are kinesthetic?  They need hands-on learning to process the information and be successful at it. Let’s talk about those learners/thinkers for a moment.  

There are myriads of kinesthetic learners/thinkers out there, and researchers suggest that everyone enjoys learning/processing information this way.  But, think about how our classrooms are set up in our schools. Mostly a “stand and deliver” process, the students are asked to sit in their seats while the teacher gives out information to be memorized and then spit back on a test. We don’t expect this way of processing/learning when we obtain our driver’s license.  We actually have to drive to prove we understand the concept! How confident would you be if your hairdresser told you she had never actually cut hair before, but she learned a lot about it from books, and lectures on how to do it? Would you let her grab the scissors and take a whack at it?  (Pun intended).  Kinesthetic learners will struggle in a classroom that offers only visual/linguistic content.

Greater Things wants to help all students learn, but we especially want to help those who are heavily kinesthetic thinkers/processors.  We want to help them learn how to be their biggest advocate in the classroom. If we know what type of learner/processor we are, even in elementary school, we can learn to advocate for what we need in the classroom to succeed.  Possibly, some teachers don’t understand our hands-on learners. Possibly, it is much easier to keep 30 kids in their seats, quiet, and listening while he or she “gets through the content of the lesson.”

Part 3 will go into detail on each type of learner and how you can help your child at home, as we help at Greater Things, recognize how best they learn and how to obtain what they need to succeed in the classroom.

Stay tuned….

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