Did you know that we all learn in different ways? Have you seen a fellow barn-mate pick up on something so fast and wonder why the same thing didn’t work for you?
Researchers have come up with 4 general “learning styles” to categorize the myriad of different ways that we master new skills or knowledge.
Benefit: Understanding these learning styles can help you get more from your lessons and finish a lesson with a sense of accomplishment instead of frustration.
Background and Exploration: According to Wikipedia, “Learning styles are various approaches or ways of learning. They involve educating methods, particular to an individual, that are presumed to allow that individual to learn best. Most people prefer an identifiable method of interacting with, taking in, and processing stimuli or information.”
These four learning styles are usually credited to Neil Fleming and are sometimes called the VARK model:
• Visual (sometimes called Visual and Non-verbal),
• Auditory (hearing)
• Reading / Writing (sometimes called Verbal), and
• Kinesthetic (feeling / doing).
Visual learners prefer to process new information by seeing. They use pictures, diagrams, flow charts, or even create detailed pictures in their mind.
Auditory learners prefer to hear new information. In a classroom, they will benefit from lectures and discussion groups. In a lesson setting, hearing an instructor’s words and hearing themselves say it are helpful.
Reading / Writing / Verbal learners like to take in new concepts through words, either by reading them before a ride or writing them down after a lesson.
Kinesthetic learners like to feel, do or imagine how it will feel. They have to do it themselves to lock in the new skill.
Putting it to use:
When you want to learn a new skill in your equestrian passion, do you prefer to:
a) Search out articles and books on the topic?
b) Ask friends to tell you what they know about it and how they figured it out?
c) Look at drawings, diagrams and pictures of others doing this skill?
d) Find a knowledgeable coach or ground person to help you create the new feel and tell you when you and your horse have it right?
e) Any one of the above depending on circumstance and mood?
Can you tell which answer goes with which style? Here are the answers; a) is reading / writing / verbal, b) is auditory, c) is visual, d) is kinesthetic. Most people use all of the learning styles at some point, but prefer to use one or two.
In a lesson with me, you’ll experience a conscious combination of all 4 of the learning styles to help you progress most efficiently. You might see me demonstrate various movements or positions in my own body on the ground to show what we’re working on (visual). Throughout the lesson, you’ll hear me talk you through new concepts and, at the end, ask you to say in your own words what the aha’s were (auditory). You might be referred to an article in one of the latest trade magazines or an email link or asked to write down your aha’s that you just told me (reading / writing). And you’ll lock in new “feels” when, I hold the reins, from the ground by the bit, and say “pretend my hands are the horse’s mouth” or when I press on your lower leg to show you a new way to apply the leg aid.
Sometimes when we struggle to achieve a new skill, we have to use many approaches to get the break through desired. If you know that you have only used one or two of these learning styles when working towards mastering a new skill, consider how else you might learn the new skill using one of the other styles.
Take the quick poll here and see what others have said so far:
Turns out, most of us use a unique combination of all of the learning styles, but we do usually have a preference. Guide your instructor to help you learn even better by making sure they know your preference. Contact me to experience these concepts for yourself while “in the tack”.