How I learn and my students learn can be disparate. This is always the challenge in teaching – being able to present the information of study in a way that satisfies the various learning styles in the class room.
Some students need words. They are more intellectual or heady. They can repeat described patterns like a mantra and create them in their body. These are curious people to me as I can’t talk myself through things fast enough to keep up with my body’s muscle firing to do things on music. It is wondrous to me to watch them listen the words and create the movement. These are more the exception than the rule for my school, but their needs are always addressed.
Many of my students are mimics. They like to have an image created for them of the end point and then they try to replicate. This requires high reliance on mirrors and a lot of mirror studying time – they have to spend time before a mirror to input into the body what that image may feel like. Often the image is not downloaded into bodily sensation because the visual cue is missing, so without the mirror and an image to mimic, the information does not stick. This ends up with returning to the studio repeatedly with the same issue.
If I have the opportunity, I like to touch the person I study so I can feel the anatomical positioning and activation of their body to download that into my own body. By touching their body, I can estimate what it should feel in my own body. I have students who operate this way and so we employ a hands on technique in classes for anyone who needs this kind of input to understand the concept. It works for less than half of my students, often not working if they are not well in tune with how their muscles activate to create movement. When we do isolation work, we talk about where muscles’ origins and insertions are and how they ultimately move bones closer or farther apart. This helps create mental image of what is happening at a deeper level.
Most people are not solely a verbal, visual, or sensual learner. They are a combination of two to varying degrees and the degree can change dependent on the information being studied. It is fascinating to watch people learn and discern what kind of learner they are so that I can best facilitate their studies. It is one of my favourite challenges in my classroom.