(Guest post by Greg Forster)
I had to laugh when I saw this New York Times story. They’ve discovered that the existence of multiple “learning styles” has no sound basis in empirical evidence:
Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded.
Wow, those daring journalists at the Times and scientists at Psychological Science in the Public Interest aren’t afraid to buck the conventional wisdom!
Imagine how daring they’d have been if they’d been reading Education Next . . . in 2004?
(Admittedly, the Ed Next article is framed in terms of “multiple intelligences” rather than “learning styles,” but when you come right down to it, “multiple intelligences” was just the fashionable early-aughts buzzword for the same cluster of fallacies that goes by “learning styles.”)
Actually, learning styles and multiple intelligences are different ideas. They are often confused because they are popular ways of thinking about ways that kids differ, but MI is about abilities, and styles are, by definition, not about ability, but about preferences or biases.
And I’m actually really glad that the Times mentioned the L.S. business. It’s old stuff to you and me, but lots of people–most people–still believe it, so it’s good to get the word out!
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