Different Thinking Styles
Favourite Thinking Style
I have been a teacher for over thirty five years and it was only towards the end of my first ten years that I learned that some people think in pictures, some in sound and others in feelings. That isn't to say we don't do a bit of each but we each have our own favourite way of thinking. I wish someone had told me this when I was doing my teacher training as it would have saved me a lot of heart ache both inside and outside of the classroom.
Getting Through to Someone
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and it was as if the person you were talking to was speaking a different language? Have you ever felt that there is no getting through to this person? I think we have all had the experience and felt the frustration of not being understood. Well there is a reason for this and that is the person you are trying to get through to has probably got a different thinking style to yours.
The three styles of thinking that have been identified are Visual (pictures), Aural (sounds) and Kinaesthetic (feelings). If you think in pictures then you would have liked your teacher to have drawn more diagrams when explaining something. If you think more in sound then all you wanted was to be told and you probably found the pictures a distraction. If you thought with feelings then you would have wanted to learn by touching the things you were being taught.
Thinking Style and Learning
Most teachers tend to think visually or aurally and that is why the students who also think visually or aurally tend to do better academically in school. The children who think kinaesthetically are often the trouble makers and the ones who tend to fail academically. They are the least understood because few teachers can speak their language. They tend to think they are not as clever as everyone else and never realise that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. They just need a teacher with the same thinking style to teach them.
How to Check Thinking Style
There is a very simple test you can perform to check how you predominantly think and it involves eye movement. Simply ask a question that requires the child to remember something and note the eye movement. If the eyes look up when thinking then the child is more than likely a visual thinker. If the eyes look to the ears then the child is probably an aural thinker. If the child looks downwards then you can bet the child is a kinaesthetic thinker.
This simple test will explain why perhaps you have not been able to get through to your spouse so easily all these years. There are also indicators in the words people use to communicate. e.g. In order to convey understanding, a visual person might say “I see” and an aural person may say “I hear you.” Being aware of how other people think will help you to choose your words and expression to suit them so that you are better understood and more able to build rapport.
Slow Learners or Ineffective Communication
As a teacher I could never understand why only a fraction of the class understood what I had said though everyone in the room definitely spoke the same language. Even after explaining the same thing a number of times there were always students who just didn't get it. The easy way out would have been to label those children as slow and that is what often happens. It was only years later when I realised that speaking the same language wasn't enough to be an effective teacher I had to also think the same language. It seems so obvious to me now but it wasn't obvious to me back then. I am sure there are many teachers who still have not yet discovered that their thinking may not match the thinking of the children in front of them and it is not that they are bad teachers or the children are lacking in intelligence but that seeing, hearing and feeling are very different languages in the world of thought.
New Way of Matching Teachers and Students
Instead of children being put in classes based on test scores I would much prefer to see children who are failing and losing confidence to be placed in classes with teachers who think the same language.
Children rise and fall to the expectations of their parents and teachers. Sometimes the labels we place on our children do not belong to them and are based on information that we have falsely interpreted.
Were you falsely labelled as a child? Have you ever falsely labelled a child? What can you do to correct the false labelling of our children and educate teachers and parents to be aware of the different styles of thinking and how thinking styles can affect learning?
Video giving examples of VAK learning styles
© 2011 Xavier Nathan