Thursday, September 23, 2010

More provocations for better classroom management

(excerpt from The Power of Diversity by Barbara Prashnig)

Fallacy 6: Eating should not be permitted in classrooms during lessons.

Many students concentrate better when they can concentrate better when have something to eat, nibble, chew or drink while learning, and many teachers will have observed that a number of students chew on whatever they can get hold of during classes, particularly when they have to listen for a while, when they are bored or nervous. It seems that mouth stimulation helps them concentrate, and as the brain dehydrates during thinking processes, it is essential that students are allowed to have drinks of water whenever needed.

Students with a high need for intake should be allowed to have healthy snacks, and with good management techniques there will be no mess in class. Thousands of teachers who have successfully introduced a ‘healthy nibbles policy’ are proof that it works, and discipline, together with student performance, improves significantly.

Fallacy 7: Effective teaching requires clearly stated objectives followed by detailed, step-by-step, sequential explanations until students understand what’s being taught.

While holistic, right-brain dominant learners tend to grasp large concepts first and then deal with the related facts and details, analytic, left-brain dominant learners pay attention to the facts first and use them for building up the whole concept. Only these are the ones who work well with step-by-step teaching. Many, probably most, teachers use analytic styles and a few teach only holistically, using a lot of creativity. Every teacher should (and successful teachers always do) include elements of both styles in their teaching.

("The New Look of Learning and Teaching", excerpt from The Power of Diversity by Barbara Prashnig)

Wondering what the learning needs are in your classroom? Start here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dyslexia and Learning Styles

Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand recognises that the left and right brain hemispheres of a person with dyslexia are wired differently to those in a non-dyslexic:

"... Dyslexia has a substantive neurobiological basis. Brain research, including studies from Yale and Auckland universities, has shown that while it is common to use the ‘verbal’ left side of our brain to understand words, dyslexic people use the ‘pictorial’ right side – making them slower to process and understand language, but stronger in creative areas like problem solving, empathy and lateral thinking."

Dyslexics tend to be top-down rather than bottom-up thinkers. This means that their Learning Style is holistic, in other words, they learn from getting the big picture or the overall idea first, and then look at the details.

Dr Sally Shaywitz, founder of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, identified the strengths of dyslexic information processing as:
  • higher level conceptualisation
  • high learning capacity
  • exceptional empathy
  • excellence in highly specialised areas
  • "out-of-the-box thinking” which leads to new insights.
Unfortunately, those strengths come at a price. Dyslexic learners often have trouble with literacy, numeracy, decoding words and their meanings. Auditory information processing may be a challenge, together with making deadlines, planning and organising.

If you're familiar with Creative Learning's Learning Style Pyramid, you will immediately realise that dyslexic learners have a non-preference for analytic learning.

Ultimately, dyslexia can be characterised as a learning preference – based on individuals preferring to receive, process and present information in ways that make more sense to the dyslexic-wired brain, such as tactile, kinesthetic or video rather than through written or spoke words. (Please note that the preferences alone are not enough to diagnose dyslexia, as you may find many holistic tactile learners who are not dyslexic.)

Is it possible that your child's Learning Style displays dyslexic preferences? Find out today.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Learning Styles and Job Satisfaction

Even those of us lucky enough to have a job in today's economy are not always happy at work. A new survey found only 45% of Americans are satisfied with their job, and the trend seems to be similar in Europe. "Down under" in New Zealand and Australia, as many as 65% of people in the IT industry are "keeping their eyes open" for a new position.

It's easy to blame it all on the recession. However, worker dissatisfaction has been on the rise for more than two decades:
  • Fewer workers consider their jobs interesting.
  • Incomes have not kept up with inflation.
  • Companies have been cutting costs by making their staff work longer hours instead of employing more people.

  • Is there a way for managers to make their team happier if salary increases are not an option? We at Creative Learning believe the answer to be a resounding YES!

    A person's Learning Style is the way in which he or she learns best. Similarly, a person's Working Style is the way they work best.

    Sometimes, all you need to do to make your team happy is pay attention to their Working Style Preferences, such as:
    • the time of team meetings
    • where each person's desk is positioned relative to the aircon, windows and traffic flow
    • the nature of tasks
    • the number of tasks
    • they way in which the tasks are given (written, oral, point form, etc.)

    Thursday, September 02, 2010

    A Question of Learning Styles: What has gone wrong in education?

    Let’s consider formal education and ask a few formal education questions:

    • How many thousands of hours do students sit in classrooms experiencing lectures or lectures, deadly boring activities which bore them to death, which stifle activities their curiosity, and their spontaneously emerging interest?
    • What happens when a child experiences uncertainty about details of the presentation?
    • How many hundreds of hours do they spend reading books?
    • And again, what can students do when they encounter something they do not understand or evokes their curiosity? Will they raise their hands and ask?

    Only those who are not easily intimidated. The majority of students, however, learn to ignore all but their most powerful urges. Slowly but surely their experiences at school result in a deadening of school experiences kill their inner sensitivity.

    Unlike the way children learn informally before and outside school, the entire educational system discourages them from ‘tuning’ into their own inner learning processes. They become conditioned to disregard their own meaning, their learning needs, disregard their (learning) style and individuality in favour of acquiring machine-like behaviours and uniform outcomes uniform outcomes favoured by the system and those who represent it.

    Consider the following: before children go into children learn by formal education, they learn miraculously by developing an inner sensitivity for their learning processes which is their day-to-day experience for years. When they go to school, in the process at school of being taught various subjects, the message they receive now is: what goes on inside your head is meaningless, pay attention and do as we tell you!

    This whole dilemma has nothing to do with teachers’ intentions; this is not the issue. The problem is not WHAT is being taught but HOW it is done. The formal environment and traditional teaching methods continually discourage children from remaining sensitive to their own most essential capacities for learning. It’s the overall education experience education experience which turns, almost as a rule, highly energised, turns curious, eager and alive children into mainly tired, alive children into uninterested, uneasy, bored and frustrated students.

    This is true for schools in every country I have visited so far, from Finland to Hong Kong, from New Zealand to Sweden, from the US to Denmark. And what’s even more alarming, this unfortunate development can be seen everywhere - despite the school, the teacher, even the socioeconomic family status of the student.

    (excerpt from The Power of Diversity by Barbara Prashnig)

    Wondering how to put it right? Start here.