Dr. David Kalb, author of the Learning Styles Inventory (LSI) theorizes that in order to learn we each pick a comfortable place on two intersecting continua, the perception continuum somewhere between conceptual thinking and pure pragmatic experience and the processing continuum, between watching and reflection and experimentation and testing. The resulting learning styles model looks like this:
- Diverging learners who like to work in groups and brainstorm,
- Assimilating learners who like books and lectures,
- Converging learners who would be more comfortable in applied disciplines, and
- Accommodating learners who rely on other people to learn and experiment a lot.
I remember being intrigued by the discussion when I took the LSI. (I think I had a weak primary preference for the converging style, but sitting more in the middle.) Like a lot of self-report instruments, the discussion and comparisons with others you interact with are more educational than the instrument output itself. It is worth thinking about how you learn as well as the why the what and the how much.
Why am I writing about how to learn now?
Part of the answer is that the act of writing solidifies my own learning, sometimes it’s what I wish I had known at age 15, 25, and/or 35.
Part of the answer is that just as my work required learning, I believe others need to learn, e.g., how to innovate integrate and improve. Finally a large part of the answer is that our world is changing so very rapidly – technologically, politically, economically, sociologically, etc. Our only choice is to learn or get left hopelessly behind.
I’m a better learner than I used to be. Not surprisingly, I got better at learning in college (at least, in my major) and in graduate school. That was because I wanted to learn. But I am still a late adopter, the almost last one on my block to try the latest techno-geegaw.
I’ve come to the conclusion that even in retirement, I want to learn about many different things and to pass that joy on. I think that is healthy for me, for my children and grandchildren, and for my readers.
Now if I could only get over this problem with authority.