Monday, June 20, 2011

Learning Modalities and How They Affect Religious Communication

Most classroom teachers teach by using the same modality with which they learn best. Those who learn aurally (by hearing things articulated verbally) tend to lecture; those who are visual learners tend to do PowerPoint presentations or use lots of pictures; those who are kinesthetic learners (by movement and physical contact) tend to assign hands-on projects; etc. Generally, this holds true even if the majority of their students learn best through different modalities than the teachers do.

Those who are the best teachers (who can reach the most students in a way that those students will understand) are those who understand the dominant modality of each student and find a way to present the instructional material in ways that allow all the dominant modalities to be employed. That's a very difficult thing to do, so there are students who end up in most classrooms not understanding what the teacher is trying to teach.

I personally think this happens in religion just as much as in the academic classroom, if not more so - since people tend to imbue their religious learning modalities with divine approbation and assume all will experience God (or not experience God) in the same way they do. I see this all the time around the Bloggernacle - people talking past each other to a large degree, often because their own manners of experiencing the divine simply are different.


Dallas, Dad, Big D & I said...

Certainly that is true in my experience in Sunday teaching. And certainly I must agree that is accurate with much of blogging. Now what to do?

Stan Beale said...

I would like to turn your post a bit backward. We tend to view students in terms of our modalities of learning.

I had this born out to me by a young lady who transfered in to my Senior Government Class from a small school in Alabama. The highest grades in three years of high school were 6 C grades from PE. She behaved like a mentally challenged blonde from one of the bad dumb blonde jokes.

Well, many of us in California were taught to throw away the paperwork and test for yourself. I asked her to read something to me. Disaster. I asked her to write something for me. Even worse, I despaired as I began the third of the tests, thinking skills. Using Bloom's Taxonomy and refusing to let her go into dumb blonde mode, I started. We kept going higher and higher until I gave her a rather sophisticated argument and she shredded it. She was smatter than I was.

Another teacher and I had both done the same testing. We asked the counslor to have her tested by the school psycholigist. The outcome: She was extremely bright but had dyslexia and had used the dumb blonde routine as a defense mechanism.

We got help for the dyslexia and made accomodations for her. She graduated and went on to a specialized program at the Community College. We lost track of her

Twelve years later I was going into the chaperones tent for Grad Night at Disyland. There she was, sitting at a table for UCLA . She was finishing her PhD and working with an experimental program for learning disabilities run by the University.

The other teacher and I din't do anything special. We simply did our job. The school in Alabama did not do theirs.

I wish that the Church would do threeo things to help teachers do their job better, especially instructors for the the youth:

1. Re-institute Teacher Development that includes teaching to the different modalities,

2. Have a stake calling dealing with kids with special problems or needs. This calling would be to help teachers deal with these students. Retired special education teachers would be a good choice.

3. Prepare a handbook on teaching with deith different modalities, how to idntify modality needs and with examples of what might be done

Papa D said...

D, I think about the only thing we can do in blogging is to recognize that we all think just a little bit differently - and be paitent when that is most evident. I don't succeed always in that effort, but I do try.

Stan, thank you for that wonderful example. I agree 100% with your suggestions.