How to respond to learning-style believers

Cathy Moore, Jun 18, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is a post to help bolster the arguments of people who disagree with me. :) But treat carefully. Cathy Moore writes, "Learning styles have been popularized by well-intentioned people, including possibly your professor of instructional design. However, the claim that we have to adapt our design to accommodate different learning styles has been repeatedly debunked by research." My take is that many people who talk about learning styles do not believe that this means we have to "adapt our design" to different learning styles - we are not, in other words, instructionists. Indeed, from my perspective, one of the problems of instructivist approaches is that they are completely indifferent to - and unimpacted by - individual learner differences. So they begin by denying what to me is the most obvious and intuitive fact about learning and education - that everyone is different. But hey, maybe if you read Moore's last paragraph you'll disagree with me. And I certainly agree with this: "I say that the best way to honor people’s individuality isn’t to shove them into simplistic categories so we can pour information into them." Taxonomies are for pigeons. See also: Will Thalheimer.

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