Once in a while a new book appears that makes a major contribution to our understanding of how children learn and how we empower them to become successful, self-sufficient, lifelong learners. This is a book you will want to keep as a standard and use the strategies both in school and at home. It will transform the life of every child it touches.
Because the information is aligned with the most recent research on the brain, school districts can improve their students’ performance and integrate the strategies throughout their entire curriculum. Parents will discover new ways to teach their children how to learn in all subject areas.
Pat Wyman’s unique discussion about the mis-match between learning and testing styles identifies a problem faced in every school – how to help those students whose preferred learning style does not match the written, visual tests they are required to take. Her breakthrough is to not only identify why many students receive poor grades and lower test scores, but to provide unique and refreshing solutions to such a long-standing problem.
The reason many students face challenges in school lies in the way tests are structured. The tests are, for the most part, written. Moreover, they are increasingly based on multiple-choice questions -because such exam are inexpensive to grades, easy to standardize, and meet the increasing demand for assessments, comparisons between schools, and national progress benchmarks.
For a child with a linear and visual learning style, such tests present few problems. But the children with tohter learn preferences will be at a major disadvantage. This is because the way they have been learning is at odds with the way they are not being tested.
For example, students with a preference for kinesthetic learning who have stored their learning through physical means are now having to output their learning through a principally visual medium.
The practice of teaching directed to each child’s unique form of intelligence (known as multiple intelligence teaching) has produced more sensitivity and motivation for the students as they learn. When exam time comes, however, non-visual students taught in their own style run up against a mis-match between how they have learned and the style in which they are being tested. And most have no strategies to cope. When they cannot translate into writing what they have learned in another style, they conclude that they are poor learners and a downward spiral of expectations commences.
Maybe, one day we will design and use tests that are fairer, but Pat Wyman wisely does not hold her breath. The solution, she says, is to ensure that students are taught how to store and retrieve what they know in ways that make it possible to display that knowledge in written tests.
This book contains many such strategies and is therefore invaluable for any student who wants to get better grades – and for every teachers who wants to provide his or her children with the means to cope with the stort of tests they will face throughout life.
But the book has an even more powerful subtext. Our pupils will not reach their real potential if we merely continue to focus on how to teach better. The real focus must be on empowering every student with a whole range of learning and memory strategies to meet a wide variety of learning situations -a palette of learning colors, a repertoire of learning moves, and a medley of learning voices. Only then will they become self-sufficient, fully able to capitalize, for example, on the enormous self-learning opportunities opened up by such new technologies as the Internet.
In a wold where knowledge is commonly estimated to be doubling every few years and where jobs require constant reskilling, learning how to learn has become the essential underpinning skill of the truly educated person. The problem is that too many schools still only teach what, which can rapidly get out of date, when they should be teaching how, which is skill for life.
Pat Wyman’s book is an extraordinary gift to the key skill of the new economy – learning how to learn.
Colin Rose, Author, Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century,
Posted by +Pat Wyman, author and founder of HowToLearn.com