Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Learning Styles and Your Career

Calling all Teenagers - Second-Timers Welcome!

Your career choice is one of the most important decisions you will have to make. Whether you are 16 or 46, you want to ensure that the job you’ll be doing for the next few years, 8 hours a day (at least), 5 days a week, is something that you can be passionate about and something that suits your own individual Learning Style or Working Style.

Every person has his or her unique learning style: some of us want visual props like photos and diagrams, others prefer listening to a taped lecture, others still will pace up and down the room in order to understand the new material better.

Similarly, we are also poles apart when it comes to the way we work: some of us tackle one task at a time and keep at it until it’s finished, while others prefer working on several things at the same time.

All these different preferences are called your Learning Style. And the thing is, they can be measured by applying a Learning Style Analysis (LSA).

It’s an online questionnaire and takes about 10 minutes to complete. As soon as you answer the questions, you receive a report with your own personal learning profile.

(You can find a free demo of learning style analysis here.)

So how do you use the information contained in the profile?

It’s really simple. The profile will make recommendations as to which careers may or may not be suitable for you. For example, if you can’t stand routine, your profile will say something like: “As you love change, and enjoy trying out new things, you hardly ever do the same thing the same way twice. It is important that you take into account your strong need for variety and your love of change when you consider future career planning.”

If you’re a talker who needs people interaction, the profile will guide you as follows: “For your future career planning it is very important to consider jobs which require good communication skills and a lot of people involvement.”

Sometimes the profile will list your preferences and let you decide what to do with the information, without suggesting a specific career path. Let’s imagine that your report says: “You have very strong analytical skills when it comes to problem solving or brain storming, and you always tend to use your rational, left-brain style first. When something is neither logical nor proceeding sequentially, you are not really interested.” The report will not state explicitly that you should seek careers that require strong analytic skills.

Your Learning Style Analysis report will not tell you that you should become a lawyer or try to dissuade you from following your dream to be an actor.

What the report will do, however, is list your strengths, your flexibilities and your non-preferences. That knowledge will be priceless when you’re considering your first (or your tenth) career.

(The link to the free learning style analysis demo again: click here.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Learning Styles and Traditional Schools

Today’s typical classroom may look totally different to the one in which our parents learnt: it may have tables that are big enough for ten children (as opposed to desks for one or two), the seats may be arranged in a circle (as opposed to in rows), and the blackboard may be white.

Some things, however, don’t change. Today’s pupils are still required to rely heavily on their eyes in order to take in information. The information may come from a textbook, a movie, an overhead projector or a demonstration of a science experiment - all of which are highly visual sources.

Similarly, when it comes to checking the child’s knowledge, it is usually done in a visual way: written homework, homework that involves reading or drawing, written tests.

This is why it’s crucial to know your child’s learning style. If they are highly visual, especially if combined with auditory, you can rest easy knowing that the learning material is presented to them in an optimal way. Of course, you still need to make sure that they are motivated and that other elements of their learning style are accommodated (sound, temperature, structure, the level of detail, social needs, and so on)... and you still have to check their eyes regularly to make sure they are up to the learning task.

If your child is not visual, however, they will probably struggle in a traditional school. While of course respecting their unique learning preferences, it’ll be a good idea to teach them some techniques that allow them to cope with the very visual world around us.

Some of the techniques include:
· Encourage your child to look at objects in greater detail: ask them to describe what they see at a first glance and what they see when they look again for a longer period of time.
· Play “spot the difference” puzzles and “Where is Wally”?
· Practice reading paragraphs of text together, then visualising it as a movie.
· Ask them to close their eyes and tell you what colour clothes you’re wearing.
· Do jigsaw puzzles together, particularly those that rely on utilising observation skills.
· Make a game out of watching people in the street, in the cafĂ©, in the mall.
· At the supermarket, look at the shelves together and count the varieties of cereal, dried fruit and cheese.
· Organise treasure hunts (in the garden or the family room) that rely on observation skills alone. Let the “treasures” stick out or bulge out just a little, and encourage the children to find them with their eyes, not hands.

You can find a free demo of learning style analysis here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Learning Style + Teaching Style = Perfect Match

A learning style is the child’s preferred way of learning new things.
A teaching style is the teacher’s preferred way of imparting knowledge.

Have you ever wondered why it’s so important that the teacher’s teaching style should match the student’s learning style?

Just consider this recent (actual) news clip from Reuters:
“It's official: Your toddler is smarter than a chimp, at least at some things! In one social learning test, a researcher showed the children and apes how to pop open a plastic tube to get food or a toy contained inside. The children observed and imitated the solution. Chimpanzees and orangutans, however, tried to smash open the tube or yank out the contents with their teeth.”

Now compare the story above to the following (fictional) news clip that could have made headlines somewhere in a science-fiction universe:
“It's official: A chimp toddler is smarter than a human, at least at some things! In one social learning test, a researcher showed the subjects how to smash open a plastic tube containing food or a toy, or to yank out the tube’s contents with their teeth. The chimpanzee toddlers observed and imitated the solutions. The human subjects, however, tried to pop open the tube with their fingers.”

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

To read an article about learning styles, please click here.
To find out more about teaching styles, please have a look here.

A quick disclaimer: the above illustration is not meant to be derogatory to humans, apes, teachers or students in any way whatsoever.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Learning Styles - How Your Child Learns Best

Learning Styles allow you to find out how your child learns best. When it comes to learning about Christopher Columbus, for example, she may find it easiest and most enjoyable to:
· Read a factual book on the subject.
· Read a novel on the subject, with a lot of the contents fictionalised.
· See the movie “1492”.
· Visit a museum exhibition about sea voyages.
· Make a model of the ship.
· Direct, write or star in a play about Columbus.

And that’s not all. When and where and with whom are also important choices when it comes to absorbing new information. Your child might like working alone or with friends, in the morning or the evening, in a quiet or busy spot.

To find out more, please visit Creative Learning and Prashnig Style Solutions and take the tour.

Did you know that...
.... your child's learning style affects more than just her grades?

· It also determines how she plays sport, forms friendships and communicates her emotions.
· It influences what she does for fun in her spare time and how safe she is on the Internet.
· It is a good indicator of whether - as a teenager - she will find it easy to say no to cigarettes, drugs and other dangerous activities.