Each child possesses uniqueness in his/her abilities, competence, and learning style that requires a specific teaching style. Thinking back to my own schooling, I have encountered many teachers who teach to only one learning style. I am thinking of the teachers who would stand, every single class period and lecture and lecture…and lecture. With this stifled approach, only predominantly auditory learners are at advantage. Teachers need to realize that while they may not have the necessary tools or time to teach to a variety of learning styles for each lesson, but they must try to vary at least from day to day. They need to really get to know the way their students learn, and then at least attempt to utilize tools and technology and give options for various assignments to help their students better grasp concepts and learn new ideas.Campbellsville Independent Schools in Kentucky is doing just that, with positive results! An article in the Central Kentucky News describes a new learning model that this school has adopted called “Thoughtful Classroom.” This model takes four different learning styles and applies it to the style of teaching of the students, determined by their specific learning style. At the beginning of the year, the students are tested and placed subsequently into one of four learning styles: mastery, understanding, self-expressive, and interpersonal. These categories are described in the article as such:

A mastery learner needs to be active, preferring action to words and involvement to theory.An understanding learner prefers to be challenged and to think things through for themselves. They like to work independently and require little feedback until their work is completed.Self-expressive learners prefer activities that allow them to use their imaginations and prefer open-ended questions.Interpersonal learners take a personal approach to learning, preferring social, experimental and community-oriented activities. They prefer learning about things that directly affect lives rather than impersonal facts or theories.

These learning styles are integrated into special “Thoughtful Classroom Days” where every assignment has options geared toward specific learning styles. Not only are these surprise days used to provide a learning environment specified by individual students, but teachers also take into account students’ learning styles when assessing students’ progress, and looking to help struggling students, as states teacher Donna White:

If a student is struggling with a concept, my first thought is to check his or her learning style and think about how I presented the material and the homework assignments I’ve given. I’ll ask myself, ‘Was this geared to his or her learning style?’

True, this type of learning environment does put a lot on teachers in terms of planning and assessment. It would also be difficult for teachers trying to use some of these alternative methods, when standardized exams only test for certain types of learning (such as…ahem…recognition on multiple choice questions, memory and repetition, and structured essay questions…) However, this program seems like it does spark interest and creativity in learning. If it is getting students to learn, then it, and programs like, need to be implemented. Could this perhaps be the first in new learning models all over public schools in America? Donna White of Campbellsville Independent Schools seems to think so:

It goes back to the adage, ‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.’

 “’Thoughtful’ Learning.” by James Roberts. Central Kentucky News- Journal. January 24 2007.  Full article availiable here

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