Friday, February 29, 2008

How do you learn?

"When I ask people, 'How do you learn?' most of them know it. But when I ask 'Do you act on this knowledge?' few reply that they do. And yet to act on this knowledge is the key to performance -- or rather not to act on this knowledge is to condemn oneself to nonperformance." Peter Drucker, Know your Strengths and Values

I picked up a book the other day called How to Learn Anything Quickly, by Ricki Linksman. In the book are a couple of assessments that allow the reader to determine their learning style. According to Linksman, there are four types of learners: visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic. Visual learners learn best by seeing printed or graphic images. Auditory learners learn best by listening, or talking. Tactile learners learn best by touching and feeling, sometimes emotionally. Kinesthetic learners use their large muscle groups in learning. There are also people who learn best using a combination of these methods, however often people have one dominant way of learning best. On top of these four styles, Linksman places a second division: left and right brain dominance. She then has eight "superlinks" to learning.

If you read her book, and I recommend it to clearly establish how you learn best, you will find out what your superlink to learning is. I found out that I am a visual learner with a right brain dominance. Now I have something I can work with... I always thought I was a reader rather than a listener, and now I know why. Not only do I prefer to read over listening, but I prefer images to written communication. I like pictures to tell me what I need to know.

According to Linksman's book, as a visual right-brain learner, I "take information in through my eyes and am attuned to images, pictures, graphics, colors, shapes, designs, sizes, and spatial relations.… Only after they grasp the big picture can they focus on its details." Her advice to me is to learn through visual aids with graphic and pictorial content so I can see the big picture. When no graphics are available, I need to convert the spoken or written communication into images in my mind to really grasp the message.

Linkman gives descriptions of each learning style and how to maximize your ability to learn quickly. She also provides insight on how to convey your messages so that everyone can learn it effectively.

When we brainstorm to generate powerful ideas, we use visual, written, spoken words, cards with ideas on them, and we also get up and move around. This helps every person involved, regardless of their learning preference, participate and absorb the materials quickly and well.

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