How many people believe learning styles theories are right? And why?

Daniel Willingham, Science & Education, Sept 04, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Why does Daniel Willingham continue to rail on about learning styles theories? After more than a decade, most people wrap up a discussion and move on to a different topic. He is, in fact, arguing against something very specific. After all, he agrees that "he style distinctions (visual vs. auditory; verbal vs. visual) often correspond to real differences in ability. Some people are better with words, some with space, and so on." Where he disagrees with the theory is where people argue that "everyone can reach the same cognitive goal via these different abilities." This corresponds to what he has always said: that it is the nature of the content that dictates how it should be taught, not the nature of the learner. But why would this matter so much that he comes back to it year after year. I think it's to reassert, again and again, that learning is about content, not learners. And there's where we disagree. If you're pushing content into a learner, then you focus on the content. But if you're developing the learner, you focus on the learner. The former can be mass produced by publishers and content vendors. The latter can't.

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