Friday, February 24, 2006

The Learning Styles Debate

The other day, I came across a debate on the web: are Learning Styles just a lot of hot air? Those who criticised said things like "Learning Styles are too simplistic", "they are a cog in the wheel of the learning process", "many other factors (am I hungry? do I like the subject? am I tired?) are at play" and "it is not very likely that the self-concept of a student, once he or she has reached a certain age, will drastically develop by learning about his or her personal style".

Let's take these comments one by one.

Learning Styles too simplistic? They may certainly seem simplistic, and some of them probably are. But our Learning Styles on http:\\ consider almost 50 different elements and they go waaaay beyond the simple holistic-serial classification. Our report explains all the elements in a simple, accessible way, but let's not confuse "simple" with "simplistic".

A cog in the wheel of the learning process? Well, a cog is a good thing, it's a little gear that drives the learning machine. So if Learning Styles help the learning machine chug along, that's fantastic!

Many other factors (am I hungry? do I like the subject? am I tired?) are at play? You bet! Our Learning Styles on http:\\ actually make Food Intake one of the elements of the Learning Style.

Now my favourite: not very likely that the self-concept of a student will drastically develop by learning about his or her personal style? I beg to differ. How can you not benefit from learning about yourself?

If I ever doubt whether Learning Styles worked, I only need to look at my 2 children: one is visual and right brained, one is tactile and left brained. I raised them the same way, but they came out different. That's genes and Learning Styles for you.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

2 languages good, 4 languages better?

The advantages of knowing more than one language are well known by now:
- Bilingualism increases mental flexibility for children.
- Bilingual children are more willing and able to learn a third language.
- They show an increased ability to analyse a language.
- They score higher on verbal tests conducted in English.
- They perform better in maths and logic skills than children.
- Bilingualism increases self-esteem, creativity and problem-solving skills.
- Bilingual children maintain a strong sense of their own identity and are more tolerant of other people and cultures.

About 20 years ago, Prof. Ellen Bialystok noticed that bilingual children were good at blocking out irrelevant information when it came to problem solving. When asked to identify a grammatically correct sentence, both bilinguals and monolinguals are, by age 5, able to choose, "Apples grow on trees," over "Apple trees on grow" as the correct one. But when it came to asking "Apples grow on noses" versus "Apples nose on grow," only the bilingual children were able to choose the right answer. Although the first sentence is grammatically correct, monolingual children could not get over its silliness. "That's crazy," they'd shout, "You can't say that!"

A range of cognitive tests has confirmed that bilinguals are always better at problems with tricky, misleading information. But did you know that it could also protect you from cognitive decline? Prof. Bialystok recently compared 94 bilinguals and monolinguals between the ages of 30 and 80. The study found that while both groups started showing cognitive decline by age 60, the rate of slowing for bilinguals was much slower.

The question now remains: if 2 languages are good, are 4 languages better? The jury is still out on that one.

Meanwhile, if you haven't started teaching your children a second language, it's never too early. Experts agree that before the age 4 is best, and that it will not lead to confusion with the mother tongue.

However, if your children are 5 years old or older, don't despair. The LSA report will show you how best to teach your child a new language. It will also tell you whether your child is likely to learn languages easily (children with a strong preference for words and for external auditory input are likely to enjoy learning foreign languages, as are children with a strong analytic component).

You can do your child's LSA assessment on

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Is your child's IQ as high as yours was at their age?

Last week I read a fascinating article on, one which I'd like to share with you today.

The message is not a happy one: after studying 25,000 children in the United Kingdom, a professor of education at King's College London declared that the intelligence of 11-year-olds had fallen by three years' worth in the last 20 years. He bases this observation on the results of a test that was given, in its original form, to 11-year old audiences today as well as 30 years ago.

The questions did not require any specific knowledge of the 1970s world. One of the tasks, for example, was to compare the volume of two containers based on the amount of liquid they could hold.

It seems that by giving our children more complex toys, more access to information (both on TV and on the Internet) and a more stimulating environment, we have actually done them more harm than good. And no wonder: while computers, the Internet and the Gameboy all have their place, they have left the youngsters with little time for playing with construction blocks, chemistry sets and microscopes.

Of course, it's all too easy to blame it all on the Internet and on inadequate amount sof time spent playing in the sandpit. Learning Styles play a crucial role in children's education, and I firmly believe that if today's youth were being taught to their unique Learning Style preferences, they would ace that test of 30 years ago... in fact, they would exceed our boldest expectations.

Take the example of the water containers. If the children were shown at school what happens to water when it's poured from a larger container into a smaller one, and vice versa, if they were allowed to watch it and perform the experiment themselves, then they would have no trouble answering the test question about container capacity.

Is _your_ child missing out on the best education they could possibly get?

If you think they might be, let them discover their unique Learning Style today on