For over two decades educators have looked to Dr. Howard Gardner’s work regarding “multiple intelligences” as vital to the learning environment. We also know these as various learning styles. As we all know not all kids learn in the same way. It is important to use the following learning styles in order to connect and impact your students. I’ll provide a description of these eight learning styles (terms slightly adapted) from Dr. Gardner.
1) Learning through Words – this is a primary means of communicating, but students are so overloaded with information today that words need to be used in moderation in order to effectively reach todays students. A lecture given to students is less effective than in past generations unless it is brief. Also, helping use words through brief explanations and commentary between activities are valuable ways to help students learn through words.
2) Learning through Music – Since the dawn of creation, music has been a powerful influencer. Conveying positive and moral messages through music is an essential way to reaching children, youth and adults. Using contemporary music to make a point about the days lesson, singing an ancient hymn to open or close in prayer, and playing instrumental music during a time of reflection and prayer are all examples of this learning style.
3) Learning through Logic and Math – In this learning style a person learns by making logical connections, working with numbers and solving a problem or equation. Examples of this style in a faith environment would be making connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament – recognizing that a prophecy has been fulfilled in the New Testament and finding where it is foreshadowed in the Old Testament concretely gives logical succession to one who learn in this way. Asking questions and having students answer them is another example of this learning style.
4) Learning through Art and Space – Using images to communicate your teaching objectives is another way of helping students comprehend the content or learning material. Using religious art, videos, DVD’s, or a power-point presentation are all examples of this style of learning.
5) Learning through Physical Activity – We have often heard that students learn more by doing. Allowing the person to be involved not only mentally but physically assists many students to understand to a greater degree the topic at hand. Some examples of activities that get students out of their seats and involve their whole bodies – acting, Stations of the Cross, and serving through manual labor.
6) Learning through Nature – God is, after all, the creator of this beautiful earth. Nature proclaims the glory of God and His majesty in a specific and tangible way. Today’s youth are more familiar with naturalistic themes which can be an excellent teaching tool. Using nature as a vehicle speaks volumes to todays generation. Exploring nature by actually go outside the building your class or group meets in so you can help the students grow in their understanding of God’s creation, God’s peace in the silence of nature or how according to God’s design He created with such detail are examples of teaching using this learning style.
7) Learning through Interaction – Many learn by interacting with peers, mentors and teachers. Interaction allows communication between you and others in the classroom, church, and/or learning environment. Planning skits and acting them out, interviewing others, small group time are examples of learning through interaction.
8) Learning through Introspection – going inward is a powerful way to reflect, process and examine ones life, actions and emotions. Writing exercises, examination of conscience, or quiet time for prayer and reflection are ways to learn through introspection.
The more catechists consider using these different learning styles the greater each learner will grow in an understanding of the Faith and their relationship with God. May Christ continue to bless you in your ministry!
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