Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Way We Learn

With my kids back in school, I am reminded of a book written by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias, “The Way They Learn.” It is describes learning styles and suggest customized homework environments according to personality type. It is a good read for gaining some valuable information how kids learn, perceive and comprehend our world (we can all benefit for that matter).

In her book she writes about the startling discovery in World War II made by the United States
Navy. They discovered a critical difference amongst their fighter pilots even though they were of equal intelligence, extremely motivated, rigidly screened, and thoroughly trained. When flying through the fog bank, some of these pilots would fly out of the mist upside down. This seemed to be a problem for some of the higher-ranking officials within the Navy.

They called in psychological researcher Herman Witkin who conducted various tests and discovered a critical difference amongst the pilots. The pilots that came out of the fog flying right side up, tended to process information in an analytic fashion (see definitions below). They automatically broke down any information in component parts and focused on the details. The other pilots tended to approach information in a global way. They got the overall picture or “gist” of things, but didn’t worry about the details as much. Remember, they were equal in IQ, the only difference was in how they naturally processed information.

There are hundred’s of ways to label personality and learning styles. The point isn’t to compartmentalize folk; rather it is to increase better communication, understanding and to clearly help folk discover their gifts and passions. On a good day when I get annoyed with someone’s “point of view” on particular topic, I try to remind myself to step back and understand how that person’s way of perceiving and understanding is different than my own.

In Family Therapy speak we call this “bystanding.” It is taking that stance of observing and listening without reacting. Imagine having a conversation where you aren’t allowed to state your point of view until you have communicated clearly that you completely understand your partner’s position. You can only speak to your opinion after you hear the words “You Get It.” The method of communicating might seem tedious and drawn out, but it provides for deeper connection and understanding.

Different Styles of Understanding and Learning

Analytic (Field Independent) - details, focus, organization, remembering specifics, direct answers, consistency, sense of justice, objectivity, individual competition, doing one thing at a time
Global (Field Dependent) - seeing the big picture, seeing relationships, cooperating in group efforts, reading between the line, sense of fairness, seeing many options, paraphrasing, doing several things at once, giving and receiving praise, reading body language, getting others involved.


Cyndi said...

I really liked the blog subject of "The Way We Learn". Keep writing, I'm learning much here!

Cyndi said...

I really liked the blog subject of "The Way We Learn". Keep writing, Im learning much here!