Learning Styles

by Scott Hughes

A central theme to theories regarding education or unschooling must extensively take into consideration learning styles. Unfortunately, many common approaches do not seem to pay much mind to learning styles.

Simply put, every person has their own particular ways of learning. Different people learn best in different ways, especially in regards to children. For example, some children learn how to do something better by researching extensively first, while other children learn better through trial and error. A major aspect of learning styles involves how someone prefers to learn, which contributes greatly to how well they learn in certain ways. In other words, if someone does not enjoy one style of learning, they will not learn as well through that style. For example, someone who does not enjoy reading will have trouble learning new subjects through an instructional book. A child who likes to sing and dance will learn better through song and dance. A child who likes to sit still may learn better through an educational movie or a lecture.

In an effort to systematically mass-socialize and mass-indoctrinate children, modern school systems pile thousands of students into a building and expect them to all "learn" in a one-size-fits-all fashion. Politicians in charge of education want to appease the most people. These politicians prefer to make many people slightly happy than to make a few people very happy. In analogy, large public schools deliver educations in the same way McDonald's delivers burgers; it lacks quality but they can cheaply mass-produce it and easily mass-market it. Instead of working with each student's individual learning style to help them reach their full potential, modern schools appeal to the common denominator which results in a single mediocre education applicable to many people.

For a child to learn best, the child needs a highly personalized learning environment tailored to the individual child's learning style.

Unfortunately, most modern school systems fit into an industrialized society that prefers common workers and consumers, and discourages individualism. Factories and offices full of cubicles have little room for individualism. The powers that be want a public full of unquestioning workers. Local schools have essentially no ability to give children individualized educations due to lack of funding and resources. As referenced before, providing a single poor-quality but generic education costs less than providing each child with an individualized learning environment.

With much more resources and an appreciation for individualism and critical thinking, a school could provide children with a sufficiently-personalized, quality education. However, as large institutions with power structures and a systematic approach, schools are conducive to the poor quality, impersonalized education mentioned previously. By its very nature, a school works like a factory, it conduces to factory-producing children into a singular prototype. Children can best receive a personalized learning environment not by sending them in bulk to a factory-like school, but rather by keeping them in the home and with personal friends, family, and neighbors.

The small-scale and personal environment found at home offers a child personal treatment. Here the child, with the help of family and friends, can assemble his or her own education piece by piece. For example, the child's day may include a trip to a museum of interest, a reading of a story of interest, a fun learning game, or any other way out of a possibly infinite array of ways to learn. Based on their individual interests and learning styles, each child can explore their curiosity in a succession of various ways, which ultimately amounts to an entire education far superior to anything a school can deliver.

Many assessment guidelines and quizzes exist to help determine a person's learning style. However, people naturally learn in their own way when left with the option. For children, this means that by simply not forcing any learning styles on them, each child will naturally learn in the way they want. Parents and teachers can help guide a child by giving them resources to explore their own curiosity. For example, if a child asks about animals, one can offer to take the child to the zoo. When a teenager expresses interest in classic plays, one can offer to get them a library card or show them where they can go to act in a play. Additionally, the advent of the internet has put the answers to almost any question at your fingertips, and children have a lot of questions.

Unschooling consists of giving children the freedom to explore their own curiosity in their own individual ways. Instead of forcing a learning style onto them, or otherwise restricting their style of learning, unschooling allows children to learn in whatever styles come naturally to them. This results in children who like to learn and ask questions, rather than factory-students who despise school, education, and learning. Nothing turns children off to learning more than school and forcing learning styles on them.

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