Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

School Daze

By Peter Bowditch

Is there any science behind the theory that a child’s visual, auditory or kinesthetic learning style should determine how they’re taught?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

There is something vaguely unethical about experimenting with the ways that children are taught in schools, because getting things wrong can have a serious effect on the children’s intellectual and social development.

Teaching has always been subjected to fashion and fad, but in most cases the children manage to come out at the end of the process with at least some grasp of what used to be called “The Three Rs”, although as someone who went through school learning grammar, spelling, mental arithmetic, times tables and neat writing (the last of which I never really mastered) I’m a little concerned at statements I’ve seen recently that:

  • nobody needs to know arithmetic because everyone has a calculator;
  • it’s not necessary to teach any form of handwriting because everyone has a keyboard; and
  • what is typed is automatically checked for correct spelling, but spelling and grammar aren’t really necessary for communication anyway.

One comparatively recent fashionable theory is called “Learning Styles”, which posits that children have different ways of learning, so teaching methods should be individually tailored to the appropriate style for each child. Scientific evidence of the validity of the theory has been claimed.

The three styles are:

  • visual: you learn by seeing and looking, and take detailed notes...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.