We’ve all heard our share of common folk myths—things people think have been proved true, but which in fact are simply myths. Often their only authority is the number of times they have been repeated.
The average person eats four spiders in his sleep over the course of his life; everyone should drink eight glasses of water a day; the Catholic Church opposed Galileo because he believed the earth orbited the sun. These beliefs have no basis in fact.
Education has its own common myths. One of them has to do with “learning styles.”
I can’t count the number of times I have heard this belief referred to when people talk about student learning. Remarks such as, “My student is a kinesthetic learner, so she has to have it presented to her in a certain way,” or “My child is an auditory learner, and so he has to hear it in order to learn it,” are common comments one hears when talking to educators who really should know better.
As the website Quartz reports:
Are you a visual learner who writes notes in a rainbow of different colors, or do you have to read something aloud before it will sink it? Chances are, you’ve been asked a similar question at some point in your life, and believe the concept of different “learning styles” is perfectly valid. But, as Quartz reported in December, we all learn in fundamentally similar ways. And, as New York magazine reports, the idea that students learn differently depending on their personal preference for visual, auditory or kinesthetic cues is just a myth.
In fact, it’s considered a “neuromyth,” which, as Paul Howard-Jones, professor of neuroscience and education at Bristol University, writes in a 2014 paper on the subject, is characterized by a misunderstanding, misreading, or misquoting of scientifically established facts.
Some surveys have found that over 90 percent of educators buy into this myth, an unfortunate fact since the implication of believing it can be so consequential.
Read the rest here.