Let Me Ask “Why?”

I want to share an absolutely fascinating thing that just happened with Harvey and Susan at Thoughtful Classroom. As adult learners, we took the learning styles test last evening and we haven’t looked at it yet today. After lunch, Harvey and Susan ask us to look at Guernica, by Pablo Picasso and then jot down whatever occurs to us, what we see, thoughts or ideas. We are asked to write 5-7 things that we think.

During my couple of minutes I write:

  • What’s wrong with that poor man on the right?
  • What horrible thing is occurring to cause this depth of despair in the world?
  • Is the light at the top causing their pain or is it a way out of the pain and suffering?
  • What is the significance of the handheld light, like a candle?

Lois writes:

  1. Anger
  2. Deformed
  3. Death
  4. Black/white
  5. Humans/animals
  6. War

Here’s the super cool thing about this activity. Lois is primarily a mastery learner, meaning that her learning style is good at working with and remembering facts and details. I am primarily an understanding learner, meaning that my learning style is curious about ideas, has a high tolerance for theory and abstraction. The Thoughtful Classroom learning style inventory says that my learning style is constantly asking “Why?” and that the questions tend to be provocative and probing.

Without any idea where the activity was going, Lois and I were completely true to our learning styles! Imagine how much less I would have liked this activity if I was forced to answer according to Lois’ learning style or Lois to mine. The note making activity described next allows us to take our students to another level, one on which they can make their notes more meaningful.

This is so powerful in its implications for reaching more students because it allows us to teach them the strategies they need to learn that are unknown to so many of them.

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  1. Hi Kim,

    As always I am inspired by the blog you keep. Also thrilling was that your learning styles workshop included ART!!! YEAH!!!
    As an art teacher I find that I must present lessons a few ways when teaching new art methods; often, written, visual and lecture. My hope, finding one way to creativly enlighten my students about works like Picasso’s Guernica… explaining the impact a war had on him…it’s different for everyone. Picasso used his methods of basic shapes and line(CUBISM) and little color to transport emotion of that moment into this particular piece… RIVITING… i hope…just a quick art lesson on Picasso for those who have never seen Guernica…they should!

    thanks, N.

  2. Being aware of one’s own learning style is so powerful. I am reminded every time that I present that I have to be sure to engage all learners, and the four learning styles from Silver and Strong have most often guided my thinking. To become a better presenter, I have to remember that not everyone needs to talk about their learning and process the same way I do. Think about the implications of this in the classroom. How often am I reaching all students if I am constantly providing mastery style activities? I go batty in workshops where presenters don’t let me connect personally and talk with others about my learning. Lecture does not always work for me. It is a good teaching stratey especially for those mastery style learners, but what about those need to ask why? Or what about for those who are self-expressive? The New American Lecture is a great strategy to balance a lesson for the 4 styles of learners. I use that often in my presentations.

    Isn’t this great stuff? I am hoping that I can again revisit the work of Harvey and Susan in the future with our district. Thanks to them for providing many ways to engage learners in a rigorous and relevant way. Thank you, Kim, for sharing the work you are doing. The use of art to introduce style sounds wonderful. I look forward to hearing more.

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