Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 30 Aug 2007

Iíve been taught to cater for different kinds of learners in my lessons. Now Iíve read that this is nonsense.

Hillary's Advice

Yes, itís true that pretty much all teachers today are trained to address different types of learning, and to make sure they are catering for children who absorb knowledge mainly through either seeing things, hearing things, or feeling and doing things. Thus, under this view of classroom life, a good, all-round lesson might include the teacher talking, a video clip, and some sort of practical activity.

And yes itís true that this VAK (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) approach to teaching has recently been slated by some leading neuroscientists and educationists as ďnonsenseĒ and ďincoherentĒ, with little evidence to back it up. It must feel deeply confusing.

But you say youíve now had four yearsí of teaching. So why not throw out the rule book, and start trusting in your own experience? Fads and fancies in teaching have always come and gone. The pendulum always swings this way and that. Liberate yourself to follow your own path.

The VAK approach to teaching might be simplistic, but you must have seen by now that not all children learn in the same way, or respond to the same kind of stimulae. So why not decide to start viewing the formula that you were taught when you trained as simply a back-of-an-envelope sketch, there to remind you to mix things up as best you can. Then, without being hampered by any constraining orthodoxy, you can make your lessons as imaginative and effective as you know how, adjusting their focus according to how you, the professional, see fit, bearing in mind the particular mix of children you have in your classroom at any one time.