What type of learner are you?
Are you a woman who reads countless amounts of information, how-to articles and data before trying something out? Are you someone who prefers to read a manual from cover to cover or do you just charge at an object, expecting to learn something along the way?
In elementary school, you were probably taught about the three basic learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. According to these styles, you either prefer using pictures, hearing sounds or touching things. Although it’s true that each person has a unique learning style, sometimes it’s just better to learn something by doing it.
Here are three benefits that come with letting your five senses, your mind and your body fully experience the emotion, the task or the life-lesson at hand.
Whether or not you are an avid reader, sometimes reading a collection of information about one task can get either get boring or more complicated. In fact, the Scholastic website says, “Engaging in a hands-on task can help prevent daydreaming and restlessness during a learning experience.” If you’re not actually doing the task being described, your imagination can only take you so far before the information gets jumbled up.
For example, did you learn to drive as a teenager? If you did, then you were most likely required to go to driving school. While driving school is useful for exposing students to the many rules of the road, sitting in class hearing and reading about driving probably got monotonous. When you were put behind a wheel, however, you were more awake and in-tune with what your driving instructor was telling you to do. The same thing applies to other activities, too. It’s more stimulating to do a surgical procedure than to read about it and it’s more engaging to cook a meal than to read a recipe.
According to Nepean Tutoring, kinesthetic learning increases comprehension. On the website, they use the example of teaching children to spell through an engaging activity such as a “spelling dance.” With this dance, children can form the letters with their bodies to help them remember the spelling. Although this is a more light-hearted example, it rings true for even the most serious subjects.
If you go back to the driving example, ask yourself: was it easier for you to learn about merging on the freeway by reading or by doing? On the Defensive Driving website, for instance, it says: “A merge is one of the highest risk maneuvers that you do as a driver…Well before you’re actually ready to merge, identify a gap between your cars on the freeway where you can merge. Then, continue increasing your speed until you reach the gap you selected.” Logically, it makes sense. But if you’re a new driver, this can get confusing. You don’t actually properly understand how to merge until you’re physically speeding up, “identifying the gap” and moving the car.
Scholastic talks about how combining “movement, talking and listening activates multiple areas of the brain” in order to improve critical thinking in both children and adults. On the website, Lanise Jacoby, a 2nd grade teacher at Pierce School in Arlington, talks about how “hands-on activities [lend] themselves to authentic assessment and observation.”
Basically, doing something, allows people – despite the age – to better observe something going on, to quickly explain what they are doing and to give a reason as to why they are doing it. These skills help develop the way people think about things and can be applied to several aspects of your life. Critical thinking not only helps with problem solving, but it leaves your mind room to question things such as the status quo. It allows you to come to your own conclusions and to establish your own set of values.
Although “learning by doing” is typically discussed in educational scenarios, learning by doing is beneficial in all aspects of your life. Not only does it teach you to think deeply and critically, it also gives you a better understanding of important life lessons.
Sure, driving a car is important, but it’s also important to learn how to love and forgive. How will you know and understand the complexity of these emotions without experiencing it first? In the same way you can read instructions about how to drive or how to cook, there are articles about “falling in love” and why you should forgive. But just as it is better to learn how to drive by actually driving, reading about love isn’t quite the same as actually loving.
So whether you’re trying a new activity or you’re trying to teach yourself how to let go of any grudges – remember that it’s often better done than said.
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