Individuality – Part 2


Everyone is different.  That is a fact which it is important to remember when you are working out the best way to learn.  This was brought home to me in my first job as a teacher.

I had in my class a very unusual circumstance  –  two sets of twins, one identical and one fraternal.  I was particularly struck by people’s attitudes toward them. The fraternal twins were treated as two individuals whilst all too often the identical twins were  treated almost as clones of each other.  People muddled up their names, treated them as interchangeable and were surprised to find that they had different tastes and ideas.  As a teacher, you watch a class, noticing personal strengths and weaknesses, quirks of appearance etc., and very soon I realised that, despite their apparently common identity, Katherine and Alison were two very individual personalities.  Katherine was taller than her sister and more sporty, playing netball for the school; academically, she would not venture an opinion until she was absolutely sure of her ground whilst Alison would take a chance on a new idea and often lead developing discussions in class. Alison was good enough to play in her form netball team but was not really interested in playing for the school.  In short, they were identical but they were also different.

This is what we all need to remember when it comes to working out the best way to learn.  We must always ask ourselves what is the best way for me?

One important Factor is how we time our work.  If you think about it, lessons in school usually work in fractions of an hour, they generally break down into sections on theory, practical and discussion work. This is because our concentration reduces if we try to work for more than an hour at one aspect.

If you are working for, say, a session of three hours independent study, break it into two or three subjects. Spend 50 minutes working at the first subject, doing the task you need to do, writing, reading, working out, making notes and planning a task etc., then take a ten minute break. Next spend 50 minutes working on a different subject, followed by a ten minute break.  Finally, spend the final 50 minutes possibly writing the essay you prepared in the first session or completing the maths work you prepared or working on a third subject.  Working in that structure means that our mind changes gear each time, the topic appears new and fresh and we can work at it more effectively.

There is one common factor in learning and something we all need to practise.  There is an inherent connection between eye, brain and hand. If we read or see something (eye) it imprints itself on our brain;  if we then write down (hand) the facts, ideas, diagram, sequence of events, we have a much higher chance of retaining (learning) the information(knowledge) and being able to recall it on demand.

Learning styles  – Everyone’s learning style is different and is often a combination of approaches.

Decide which combination works best for you.  Only you can really know, other people can tell you what they think, but you are inside your brain and know which is most effective.

Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.

Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music It is important here to realise that the music should not just be ‘background’ but make a positive contribution to learning..

Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.

Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.

Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.

Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Suggestions for working

  1. Never just download information. Download, Yes!  Store it, Yes. But also go through it, read and study it AND MAKE YOUR OWN NOTES.  Making your own notes means that you have understood it and fixed it in your mind.
  2. Make posters to go in your room for important points. We remember ideas, words, phrases that we see on a regular basis and it is a good way of imprinting equations, formulae, spellings etc. on our mind.
  3. If you are a slow reader, see if you can get hold of a recording of a set text (make sure it is the complete text) and listen to it when you are relaxing or just before you go to sleep. That way you begin to become familiar with the text and its language. We often understand things when they are spoken aloud better than when we read them if the language is unfamiliar.
  4. Using recordings is particularly helpful if you are taking a language because that way you can get the right sound when you speak.