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Children Learn Differently

The phrase “every child learns differently” is often used to refer to a child’s learning style. While it is true that children have different learning styles — some are visual learners, some auditory learners, and others are kinesthetic/tactual learners — these individual preferences play a much smaller role than is generally recognized. In essence, all children learn the same, i.e. they can only learn if their educators — parents and teachers — follow viable and universal learning principles.

One can compare the above situation to eating. When people eat, like when they learn, they also have individual preferences. Some people prefer to eat with their hands, some with a knife and fork, while others prefer to eat with chopsticks. Some cut their food into small chunks, while others put rather large chunks into their mouths. Some chew their food very well while others do not allow much time for chewing.

However, the role that these individual preferences play in the eating process is relatively small. What really matters, however, is what all people have in common. All people (1) place their food into their mouths, (2) chew their food, and then (3) swallow their food. Without following these three universal steps, eating would not be possible. In the same way, learning is not possible unless one follows universal learning principles.

One of the most important universal learning principles is that human learning does not take place on a single level, but is a stratified process. You cannot teach a child to add and subtract unless you have first taught him to count. This would be quite impossible, and no amount of effort would ever succeed in teaching the child addition and subtraction.

This means that there is a sequence that is to be observed in teaching. Certain things have to be taught first, before it becomes possible to teach other things.

The problem is that this very important principle of learning is hardly noted in any of the present-day theories on learning. In fact, when this principle of learning is mentioned, it often happens by way of an en passant reference to discarded notions from the past:

Baldwin (1896) introduced the concept of a hierarchy of senses and proposed that sense perception ability varied from person to person. As we ascend Baldwin's pyramidal scale we find that each capability rests on, and is chronologically and psychologically dependent on, all the capabilities below it (for example imagination, which could not act but for its predecessors perception and memory). This notion of training competencies hierarchically was the premise on which perceptual training and perceptual motor training were based.1

When this principle is noticed, then its significance is often distorted by reductionist thinking such as, “Cognitive abilities develop in a sequential fashion that cannot be altered,”2 or, “Another prerequisite for reading includes a certain level of physiological development of the brain.”3

The stratified nature of learning is an age-old — but ageless — principle. This principle was already pointed out by Herbart (1776-1841), and it is based on the further principle that

One never . . . apprehends anything in isolation, but always in terms of one's background of previous experience and learning. So the first consideration in properly organized learning would be to make sure that the learner had the right background.4

Unless educators teach according to viable and universal learning principles, they cannot blame children of “learning disabilities.”

Audiblox is a system of cognitive exercises, based on viable and universal learning principles. It aims at the development of foundational learning skills such as concentration, perception, memory, and logical thought, and improves performance in reading, spelling, writing and math. Audiblox is adaptable for the gifted and less gifted, and applicable for all age groups. It is effective for a variety of learning difficulties including dyslexia and dysgraphia.


References:
1.) Kronick, D., New Approaches to Learning Disabilities. Cognitive, Metacognitive and Holistic (Philadelphia: Grune & Stratton, 1988), 6.
2.) Lerner, J., Learning Disabilities: Theories, Diagnosis, and Teaching Strategies (4th ed.), (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988), 173.
3.) Lipa, S. E., “Reading disability: A new look at an old issue,” Journal of Learning Disabilities, 1983, vol. 16(8), 453-457.
4.) Mursell, J. L., Successful Teaching (2nd ed.), (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1954), 210-211.